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BS  527  .R67  1906 

Rosenau,  William,  1865-1943] 

Jewish  Biblical  commentators 


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Johns  Hopkins  University. 

Z^t  JSorb  (gaUimoxc  (Prcee 

BALTIMORE,    MD.,    V.    S.    A. 

COPYRIflHT,  1906 









During  the  winter  of  the  scholastic  year  1905-1906, 
the  author  delivered  a  course  of  lectures,  on  the  subject 
of  which  this  book  treats,  before  the  Oriental  Seminary 
of  the  Johns  Hopkins  University,  At  the  conclusion  of 
the  course,  some  of  the  students  expressed  the  desire  of 
possessing  the  lectures  in  permanent  form.  Acting  on 
this  wish,  on  the  consciousness  that  few  people  know 
anything  of  the  contribution  of  Jews  to  the  science  of 
Biblical  criticism,  and  on  the  hope  that  a  word  on  the 
subject  may  be  welcome,  the  author  herewith  presents 
the  results  of  his  investigation  in  popular  form.  Foot- 
notes, giving  more  exhaustive  explanations,  have  been 
omitted,  because  lacking  in  interest  for  the  majority  of 
readers.  Not  all  Biblical  commentators  have  been 
treated  in  this  book,  as  not  all  are  of  equal  importance. 
Only  such  have  been  considered  as  represent  distinct 
schools  of  criticism.  W.  R. 



The   Talmudic   Period 13 

Karaites  and  Saadia 33 

Grammartaxs   and  Lexicographers 49 

Rashi  axd  The  Tossafists 63 

Ibn  Ezra  and  The  Kimchis 79 

Maimonides  and  Nachmanides 95 

Mendelssohn   and  The  Biurists 113 

The  Nineteenth  Century  Critics 129 


Index    149 



Commentators  of  the  Talmudic  Period 

Biblical  Exegesis  is  not  a  new  science.  Long  before 
the  modern  schools  of  Biblical  criticism  made  their  first 
attempts  to  unravel  the  mysteries,  explain  the  perplexi- 
ties, and  give  the  history  of  Scriptures,  people  devoted 
themselves  to  the  study  of  the  Bible.  While  it  can  not  be 
denied,  that  Biblical  scholars  all  the  way  from  Well- 
hausen  back  to  Santes  Pagninus,  a  Dominican  Monk  of 
the  sixteenth  century,  rendered  valuable  service  to  the 
cause,  it  can  also  not  be  disputed,  that  the  preliminary 
work,  done  by  others,  living  between  the  first  and  six- 
teenth centuries,  made  the  task  of  the  more  recent  critics, 
comparatively  easy.  It  may,  in  very  truth,  be  asserted, 
that  the  moderns  built  upon  the  discoveries  and  theories 
of  the  ancients,  in  this,  the  Biblical,  as  well  as  in  all 
other  intellectual  disciplines, 

Xor  should  it  be  imagined,  when  reference  is  made 
to  the  activity  of  earlier  critics,  that  acknowledgement 
is  given  merely  to  such  men  as  the  Epicurean  philoso- 
pher Celsus,  the  Neo-Platonist  Porphyry,  the  Greek  Ha- 
drian, the  African  bishop  Junilius,  Cassiodorus,  St.  Je- 
rome, St.  Augustine,  Nicolas  de  Lyra  and  others.  Sight 
should  never  be  lost  of  the  activity  of  Jews  in  Biblical 
Exegesis,  not  only  up  to,  but  also  after  the  sixteenth  cen- 
tury. The  Jews,  in  fact,  may  be  said  to  have  called  into 
life  the  science  of  Biblical  Exegesis.  It  matters  little, 
whether  their  method  of  interpretation  is  regarded  scien- 

14  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

tific  in  the  modern  acceptation  of  the  term  "  scientific." 
The  fact  remains,  that  they  studied  the  Bible,  with  the 
object  of  acquiring  a  thorough  knowledge,  not  merely  of 
the  "  Tendenz  "  of  every  one  of  the  component  books, 
but  also  of  the  meaning  of  passages  and  the  connotation 
of  words.  That  the  Jews  should  have  been  foremost  in 
Biblical  research,  is  not  surprising,  when  we  consider, 
that  they  were  the  authors  oi  the  Bible,  that  their  faith 
was  founded  upon  it,  and  that  they  looked  upon  it  as 
the  advocate  of  humanity's  highest  ideals  of  civilization, 
not  to  forgot,  that  until  a  very  late  day,  the  claim  of  the 
divine  origin  of  Scriptures  was  rather  general  among 
Jews.  "  The  study  of  the  law  superseded  every  ottier 
duty  "  in  their  estimation.  They,  virtually,  if  not  lit- 
erally, carried  out  the  commands  "  to  teach  it  diligently 
to  their  children,  when  sitting  in  the  house,  when  walk 
ing  by  the  way,  when  lying  down  and  when  rising  up" ; 
and  "  to  meditate  therein  day  and  night."  Not  only 
that  "  ignorance  of  the  law  rendered  piety  impossible," 
but  the  neglect  of  the  law  for  some  other  work  endan- 
gered Israel's  life.  The  following  Talmudical, account 
brings  out  this  point.  Hadrian,  the  Eoman  Emperor, 
had  forbidden  Jews  to  engage  in  the  study  of  the  laW; 
which  included  the  whole  Bible  and  all  the  disciplines 
related  to  it.  Despite  the  imperial  edict,  Eabbi  Akibah 
taught  the  law  publicly.  A  certain  man,  named  Papus, 
called  him  to  account  for  his  disobedience,  whereupon 
Akibah  told  the  following  fable.  A  fox  promenaded 
along  a  river's  bank,  and,  noticing  that  the  fishes  were 
swimming  nervously  to  and  fro,  inquired  of  what  they 
were  afraid.  They  answered  :  "  We  fear  the  fishermen's 
nets."     "  Come  upon  the  dry  land  and  we  will  live  to- 

Commentators  of  Talmudic  Period  15 

gether,  like  the  first  animals  on  earth,"  remarked  the  sly 
fox.  The  fishes  replied:  "You  are  unjustly  regarded 
the  smartest  member  of  the  animal  kingdom.  Do  you 
not  know  that,  though  we  may  not  be  safe  in  the  water, 
death  must  needs  come  to  us  if  we  venture  upon  the  dry 
land?"  The  application  of  the  fable  made  by  Akibah 
was  to  this  efl'ect.  Let  Israel  get  away  from  its  law  and 
its  dissolution  is  inevitable. 

Another  point  worthy  of  mention  in  this  connection, 
because  demonstrating  the  extent  to  which  the  Jews 
busied  themselves  witli  Scripture^s  and  its  interpretation, 
is  their  almost  unvarying  tendency  to  regard  every  sub- 
ject of  study  they  pursued  in  their  dispersion,  from  the 
Biblical  point  of  view.  The  well-known  attempt  of  Mai- 
monidcs,  a  Jewish  teacher,  living  in  the  twelfth  century, 
to  defend  Judaism  against  tlie  then  dominant  Aristotel- 
ianism,  is  by  no  means  the  only  instance  proving  the 
effort  of  Jews  at  harmonizing  philosophy  and  other  sys- 
tems of  thought  with  Biblical  teaching. 

In  searching  for  the  first  Jewish  Biblical  exegete,  we 
are  led  back  to  a  time  preceding  by  several  centuries  thi^ 
close  of  the  Biblical  canon.  Ezra  called  niin3  thd  "isid 
niyn  "  an  expert  scril^e  in  the  law  of  Moses  "  may  be 
regarded,  as  far  as  historical  documentary  evidence  can 
be  trusted,  the  father  of  Biblical  Exegesis.  The  He- 
brew equivalent  for  "  exegesis  "  is  wmt2  from  a  root  ty*iT 
meaning  "  to  seek,"  "  search,"  and,  hence,  to  "  ex- 
pound"; a  verb  occurring  in  Ezra  7:  10,  which  reads: 
"  And  Ezra  had  prepared  his  heart  to  seek  the  law  of 
the  Lord." 

That  Ezra  should  have  been  the  first  to  devote  him- 
self to  the  development  of  Biblical  interpretation  and 

16  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

should  have  been  responsible  for  the  cultivation  of  this 
discipline,  at  the  hands  of  others,  is  easily  explained, 
on  the  basis  of  the  culture  existing  among  the  people  of 
his  time  living  in  Palestine.  In  the  middle  of  the  fifth 
century  before  the  Christian  era,  the  colonists  who  had 
returned  from  the  exile  to  the  land  of  their  fathers 
could  not  be  considered  a  well  established  theocracy. 
Apart  from  the  adverse  political  conditions,  the  igno- 
rance of  the  people  in  the  Mosaic  law,  which  required 
explanation  before  it  could  be  understood,  not  to  men- 
tion their  lack  of  acquaintance  with  the  classical  He- 
brew, operated  against  the  immediate  and  complete 
formation  of  an  enduring  Jewish  commonwealth.  The 
commonwealth  of  Israel  had  to  be  founded  on  the  law 
of  Moses,  and  the  establishment  of  the  law  presupposed 
its  execution.  In  the  course  of  time  the  prophetical 
books  and  the  sacred  writings  were  added.  These,  as 
well  as  the  Pentateuch,  were  ordered  to  be  read  at  stated 
times,  but  were  in  a  language,  which  the  common  people 
did  not  understand.  The  office  of  "  Methurgeman,"  in- 
terpreter, was,  therefore,  created.  This  official  gave  the 
meaning  of  passages  of  Scriptures,  as  soon  as  read,  para- 
phrasing often,  instead  of  translating  into  the  dialect 
in  vogue  among  the  people. 

The  interpretations  of  the  existing  Scriptures  un- 
doubtedly called  forth  discussions  as  to  their  justifica- 
tion. Men,  learned  in  the  law,  and  teachers  by  profes- 
sion soon  gathered  about  themselves  disciples, .in  order 
to  disseminate  their  understanding  of  the  scriptural  text, 
and  thus  the  schools,  which  flourished  in  Palestine  and 
later  also  in  Babylonia,  arose.  Those  schools,  which  in- 
creased in  numbers  and  in  usefulness  from  year  to  year. 

Commentators  of  Talmudic  Period  17 

may  be  said  to  have  given  Biblical  interpretation  its 
strongest  impetus,  by  virtue  of  the  subjects,  to  which 
tlieir  courses  of  instruction  were  confined.  They  taught 
two  things:  ^'The  "  ^liqra,''  the  Scriptures  (including 
IVntatcuch,  Prophets,  and  Tiagiographa)  by  means  of 
wliich,  the  intelligent  reading  of  the  text,  and  its  di- 
vision into  sentences  and  words  were  in  great  measure 
fixed.  The  Miqra  was  also  known  as  "  the  written  law  " 
and  formed  the  subject  of  elementary  instruction  in  the 

The  other  subject  taught  was  "the  oral  law,"  called 
so  in  contraflistinction  to  the  written  law.  It  included 
all  interpretations  or  explanations  of  the  intent  and  pur- 
pose of  Biblical  laws  and  passages,  as  well  as  all  the  new 
civil,  criminal  and  religious  enactments,  for  which  the 
ever-changing  political  and  cultural  status  called.  While 
these  interpretations  were  originally  transmitted  by  word 
of  mouth  from  father  to  son  and  from  teacher  to  pupil, 
they  were  written  down  eventually,  on  acount  of  the  in- 
ability of  the  human  memory  to  retain  intact  all  these 
ever-increasing  traditions  and  on  account  of  the  desire 
to  prevent  the  traditions  from  becoming  lost.  vSeveral 
efforts  were  made  before  Eabbi  Jehudah  of  the  third 
century,  to  systematize  all  the  existing  traditional  ma- 
terial, but  it  remained  for  him  to  give  to  the  world  that 
work  known  by  the  name  "  ^lishnah  "  literally  meaning 
"  teaching."  And  as  at  the  time  of  the  third  century 
the  material  became  too  ponderous  to  be  carried  by  the 
memory,  a  condition  necessitating  the  formation  of  the 
^rishnah,  so  at  the  close  of  the  fifth  century  two  men, 
Pabbina  and  Eab  Ashi,  put  to  writing,  in  a  work  known 
as  the  Talmud,  traditions  based  on  and  interpreting  the 

18  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

text  of  the  ^lishnah,  in  which  a  great  mass  of  material  is 
foimd  that  is  of  Biblical  exegetical  interest. 

The  exegesis  of  the  schools  of  Palestine  and  Babylonia, 
preserved  in  the  Mishnah  and  Talmud,  is  threefold  in 
character.  We  have  the  Midrashoth,  Halakhoth,  and 

First  in  point  of  time  are  the  Midrashoth.  They  are 
the  interpretations  of  the  Scriptural,  more  especially  the 
Pentateuchal  passages  containing  legal  enactments. 

From  this  class  eventually  evolved  the  two  remaining 
kinds  of  interpretations,  which  alternate  with  one  an- 
other or  at  times  are  even  fused  into  one  aaother  in  the 
Mishnah,  the  Talmud  and  the  other  literary  monuments 
of  the  Talmudic  period  of  Jewish  History. 

The  Halakhoth  (from  "halakh"  to  go,  to  be  in 
vogue)  are  statutes  exegetically  derived  from  and  con- 
nected with  Scriptures. 

The  Haggadoth  (from  "nagad"  to  tell,  to  narrate), 
are  interpretations  derived  from  the  Scriptures,  but  not 
directly  connected  with  the  same. 

While  these  three  classes  cover  all  the  interpretations 
of  the  Talmudic  period,  the  interpretations  recorded  are 
also  known  either  by  the  name  "  Peshat "  the  plain  in- 
terpretation (from  "  pashat "  to  unfold)  or  by  the  name 
"  Derash/'  the  implied  or  figurative  meaning  (from 
"darash"  to  search,  to  expound).  That  in  the  "pe- 
shat "  more  of  reason  was  displayed,  while  in  the  "  de- 
rash  "  the  imagination  was  given  loose  rein,  is  evident 
from  the  terms  themselves. 

In  this  connection  it  should  also  be  borne  in  mind  that 
the  Biblical  interpretations  of  the  Mislmah  and  Talmud 
are  not  found  collated  in  any  one  part  of  either  work. 

Commentators  of  Talmudic  Period  19 

They  are  scattered  all  through  these  works,  and  are  re- 
corded only  as  the  necessities  of  tlic  subject  under  con- 
sideration required  them  or  called  for  them. 

In  tlie  Mishnah  and  Talmud  and  also  in  kindred  \vorks 
of  Mishnali  and  Talmud,  various  principles  of  interpre- 
tation were  employed. 

The  first  person  to  formulate  definite  rules  for  guid- 
ance in  this  discipline,  was  Hillel,  who  flourished  dur- 
ing the  close  of  the  first  century  before  the  common  era. 
These  rules  were  seven  in  number  and  are  as  follows : 

a.  The  inference  from  a  minor  to  a  major  case,  or 
vice  versa. 

b.  The  inference  based  on  analogy  of  expressions  in 
the  Scriptures. 

c.  The  generalization  from  one  special  provision  in 
the  Scriptures. 

d.  The  generalization  based  on  two  special  provi- 
sions in  the  Scriptures. 

e.  The  inference  based  on  the  use  of  general  and  par- 
ticular terms  used  in  a  Scriptural  passage. 

f.  The  inference  based  on  the  analogy  established 
between  two  Scriptural  passages. 

g.  The  inference  based  on  the  context. 

These  seven  rules  of  Hillel  were  expanded  to  thirteen 
by  a  certain  Rabbi  Ishmael  living  in  the  second  century, 
and  to  thirty-two  by  Rabbi  Eliezer,  his  disciple. 

A  method  of  Biblical  interpretation,  differing  widely 
from  that  based  on  the  foregoing  rules  and  their  expan- 
sions, is  that  introduced  by  N'ahum  of  Oamzu,  toward 
the  close  of  the  first  and  the  beginning  of  the  second  cen- 
tury. It  consisted  of  the  use  of  certain  particles  and 
conjunctions   for   the   purpose   of   arriving  at   implied 

20  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

meanings  in  Scriptural  passages.  The  method  is  known 
by  the  name  of  "  extension  and  limitation."  Examples  of 
particles  of  extension  are  "  af  "  and  "  gam,"  meaning 
"also,"  and  examples  of  particles  of  limitation  are 
"  akh  "  and  "  raq  "  meaning  "  but."  We  shall  cite  but 
one  passage  where  this  method  is  employed.  The  law 
with  regard  to  the  Sabbath  is  most  rigorous  in  the  Pen- 
tateuch. In  Ex.  31 :  13,  however,  we  read  ''hut  my 
Sabbaths  you  shall  keep."  Taking  the  word  "  akh  " 
translated  "  but "  to  mean  "  merely/'  the  passage  is  in- 
terpreted to  signify  that  the  rigorous  law  of  the  Sabbath 
is  not  to  be  observed,  if  such  observance  endangers  life. 
This  method  of  interpretation  found  its  fullest  develop- 
ment in  the  celebrated  Kabbi  Akibah,  who  in  135  C.  E., 
died  the  martyr's  death  in  the  massacre  of  Jews  under 
the  Eoman  Emperor  Hadrian. 

Another  method  of  interpretation  is  that  known  as 
"  Juxtaposition,"  which  signifies  that  the  meaning  of 
a  law  is  sometimes  explained  by  another  law  or  passage 
either  preceding  or  following  it.  In  the  treatise  Yeba- 
moth  49  a.  treating  of  the  Levirate  marriage,  it  is  said 
with  reference  to  Deut.  23 :  3,  reading  "  a  bastard  shall 
not  enter  the  congregation  of  the  Lord,"  that  the  word 
"  bastard  "  signifies  one  born  of  incest  or  adultery,  since 
the  law  in  the  first  verse  of  the  same  chapter  forbids  an 
incestuous  connection. 

Another  method  of  interpretation  is  found  in  the 
change  of  the  reading  of  the  text,  which  the  commen- 
tat/)rs  introduced  by  virtue  of  the  fact  that  tlie  text  de- 
prived of  the  vowel  points  might  form  an  altogether  dif- 
ferent word,  than  that  which  tradition  has  authorized. 
In  many  of  the  instances  coming  under  this  head  we 

Commentators  of  Talmudic  Period  21 

have  the  formula  kSk  ....  N'^pn  Sn  "  Do  not  read 
thus ,  but  thus " 

Allusion  was  made  above  to  works  which  must  be 
placed  into  the  Talmudic  period  of  Jewish  history. 
These,  too,  should  be  considered  in  an  attempt  to  give 
an  explanation  of  the  peculiar  kind  of  interpretation 
carried  on  among  Jews  during  almost  ten  centuries  of 
Biblical  activity.  Some  of  these  works  have  been  lost. 
Others  have  been  luckily  preserved.  Eunning  parallel 
with  the  ^lishnah  we  have  first  and  foremost  the 
"  Tosefta ''  the  ''  Supplement,"  a  work  intended  to  com- 
plete the  deficiencies  and  omissions  of  the  Mishnah.  It 
contains  the  fragments  of  interpretations,  for  which 
some  of  the  teachers  living  before  and  after  the  author  of 
the  ^[ishnah  are  responsible.  The  Tosefta  is  usually 
printed  as  an  appendix  to  the  Talmudic  compendium  of 
Alfazi  (1013-1103). 

The  "Beraitha''  was  a  work,  which  is  known  only 
from  quotations  made  from  it  in  other  books.  It  con- 
sisted of  laws  and  institutions  which  were  not  admitted 
into  the  Mishnah  by  the  author  of  the  Mishnah.  Hence, 
the  name  "  Beraitha "  which  signifies  "  that  which  is 

During  the  time  of  the  Tanaim,  a  title  applied  to  the 
teachers  whose  opinions  are  recorded  in  the  Mishnah, 
the  following  books  came  into  existence;  Mekhilta,  Sifra 
and  Sifre,  all  Midrashic  in  character  and  treating  of 
the  last  four  books  of  the  Pentateuch. 

The  ]\Ieklii1tah,  the  Aramaic  equivalent  for  the  He- 
brew "  Middah  "  measure,  signifying  in  the  Rabbinical 
dialect  method  of  interpretation,  and  then  collection  of 
interpretations,  is  supposed  to  have  originated  in  the 

22  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

school  of  Rabbi  Ishmael,  about  the  second  century  of 
the  common  era.  Its  interpretations  treat  of  Exodus  and 
begin  with  the  twelfth  chapter,  enjoining  the  observance 
of  the  Passover.  It  is  both  Halakhik  and  Ha-ggadic  in 
character,  and  is  often  quoted  by  the  Talmud  and  the 
post-Talmudic  literature.  An  example  will  suffice  to 
illustrate  its  style.  Ex.  12 :  3,  reads  m;r  Sd  Sx  nm 
ii<^\i;'  "  Speak  ye  unto  the  whole  congregation  of  the 
children  of  Israel."  With  tliis  passage,  as  a  basis,  the 
discussion  carried  on,  is :  Kabbi  Ishmael  says,  "  and 
did  both  Moses  and  Aaron  speak  to  Israel?  Was  it  not 
also  stated  ^  and  thou  shalt  speak  to  the  children  of  Is- 
rael, saying  '  ?  Why  then  does  the  text  say  '  speak  ye  '  ?  " 
The  answer  given  to  these  queries  is :  When  Moses  spoke, 
Aaron  listened  with  fear,  and  Scriptures  regard  his  list- 
ening to  Moses  equivalent  to  his  having  heard  the  teach- 
ing from  God  Himself.  Rabbi  Achai  b.  Rabbi  Jeshaiah 
is  then  reported  to  have  said : '  When  Closes  spoke,  Aaron 
was  at  his  right  and  Eleazar  at  his  left.  The  word, 
therefore,  came  from  between  them,  and  it  seemed  as 
though  the  three  spoke.' " 

The  Sifra,  known  also  by  the  name  "  Torath  Koha- 
nim,"  law  of  the  priests  and  quoted  extensively  in  the 
Talmud,  is  the  product  of  the  school  of  Akibah,  with  ad- 
ditions from  the  school  of  Ishmael,  and  treats  the  book 
of  Leviticus.  It  turns  almost  every  word  into  a  source 
for  Halakha  and  contains  comparatively  little  Haggadic 
matter.  To  illustrate  it:  Lev.  19:18  reads  oipn  «S 
"  thou  shalt  not  bear  vengeance."  With  reference  to 
this  passage  the  following  statements  are  made.  "  What 
does  vengeance  signify?  If  one  person  says  to  another 
'  lend  me  your  sickle,'  and  the  owner  does  not  lend  it ; 

Commentators  of  TALiNruDic  Period  23 

and  if  on  the  noxt  day  tlic  owner  of  the  sickle  says  to 
the  other  *  lend  me  your  ax '  and  the  owner  of  the  ax 
answers  *  I  will  not  loan  my  ax  because  you  did  not  lend 
me  your  sickle.' " 

The  Sifre  is  a  commentary  on  Numbers  and  Deute- 
ronomy. The  part  on  Numbers  is  not  by  tlie  same  author 
as  the  part  on  Deuteronomy,  that  on  Numbers  being 
more  argumentative  than  tlie  other,  and,  therefore,  re- 
sembling the  Sifra  in  many  respects. 

In  this  connection,  it  is  well  to  refer  to  another  book 
of  these  times  which  may  also  be  regarded  a  running 
commentary  to  the  Biblical  books.  I  have  in  mind  the 
"  Seder  01am,''  literally  "  the  order  of  the  world,"  and 
constituting  a  chronology  of  Biblical  history. 

As  there  are  works  kindred  to  the  Mishnah,  there  are 
works  kindred  to  the  Talmud,  having  come  into  existence 
either  at  the  same  time  with  the  Talmud  or  after  the 
Talmud,  but  sliowinrj;  a  decided  Talmudical  flavor.  The 
works  referred  to  are  the  Midrashim,  of  which  there  is 
a  large  number.  These  are,  for  the  most  part,  Haggadic 
and  are  more  homiletical  in  character  and  only  now  and 
then  exegetical  by  way  of  implication.  The  best-known 
jMidrash  is  the  ^lidrash  Rabba,  the  great  Midrash^  It  is 
called  so  because  it  opens  with  the  explanation  of  a 
teacher  entitled  Rabbi  Hoshaiah  Rabba.  The  difference 
between  the  Midrash  Rabba  and  other  Midrashim  is  this, 
that  in  the  Midrash  Rabba  every  interpretation  is  based 
on  a  scriptural  verse  from  some  other  book.  The  part 
treating  of  Genesis  is  no  doubt  a  product  of  the  fourtli 
century.  The  following  will  illustrate  the  method  of 
Midrashic  interpretation.  Gen.  2  :  20  reads;  Kip'  nwiS 
nxi     nnpS    lyxrD    o     ni^K    "she  shall  be  called  woman. 

24  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

because  she  was  taken  out  of  man."  On  this  passage 
we  find  the  comment,  that  from  this  is  to  be  inferred 
that  the  law  was  given  in  the  holy  tongue  and  that  the 
world  was  created  in  tlie  holy  language.  Did  you 
ever  hear  that  man  is  called  'JU  (j^vo^)  which  would 
be  allied  to  woman  K"rj  (r^'-'v)  or  that  from  'annjx 
(avOpwTzo^)  «'3nnjt<  (^(hOiiio-ia')  is  formed;  or  that 
from  Ki:3J  tlie  word  Nn"t3J  is  formed  for  woman? 
And  yet  from    t^'X  the  word   ni^K   is  formed. 

After  the  formation  of  the  Midrash  Eabl)a  to  Genesis, 
the  Midrashic  literature  grew  in  volume.  There  came 
into  existence  the  Pesiqta  de  Eab  Kahanah,  a  Midrash 
on  the  special  Scriptural  lessons  to  be  read  in  the  syna- 
gogue on  Sabbaths  and  feast  days;  the  Midrash  Eabba 
to  Leviticus,  and  afterwards  added  to  the  entire  work 
which  goes  by  the  name  of  Midrash  Eabba;  the  Midrash 
Tanchuma,  on  the  whole  Pentateuch,  called  so  because 
the  major  part  is  from  the  pen  of  a  certain  Eabbi  Tan- 
chuma,  and  also  by  the  name  of  "  Yelamdenu  "  he  will 
teach  us,  or  let  him  teach  us,  because  the  opening  phrase 
is  such,  and  believed  by  Zunz  to  be  a  product  of  the  ninth 
century;  the  Pesiqta  Eal)bati,  called  so  to  distinguish  it 
from  the  Pesiqta  de  Eab  Kahanah  ;  the  Midrash  Eal)ba  to 
Deuteronomy,  which  Zunz  also  places  into  the  ninth  cen- 
tury; the  Midrash  Eabba  to  Numbers;  the  Midrash 
Eabba  to  Exodus;  the  Midrash  to  the  five  Biblical 
scrolls:  Song  of  songs,  Euth,  Lamentations,  Ecclesiastes 
and  Esther;  the  Pirqe  de  Eabbi  Eliezer,  which  contains 
fifty-four  chapters,  describes  the  most  important  events 
of  the  Pentateuch,  and  whose  author  lived  about  the 
eighth  century ;  the  Yalqut  Shimoni  on  the  twenty-four 
books  of  the  0.  T.  whose  author  is  unknown ;  the  Yalqut 

Commentators  of  Talmudic  Period  25 

Ha  Makiri  on  the  twelve  minor  proplicts,  also  of  uncer- 
tain authorship;  and  finally  the  Midrash  Ilaggadol,  an- 
other great  Midrash,  product  of  the  Middle  Ages,  simi- 
lar in  contents  but  not  identical  with  the  Midrash  Rabba. 
Taking  into  consideration  the  details  of  the  exegesis  in 
vogue  in  the  da3's  of  the  formation  of  the  Mishnic  and 
Talmudic  literature,  one  cannot  help  but  infer  that  it 
must  contain  a  great  deal  of  valueless  material ;  value- 
less from  the  truh'  exegetical  point  of  view,  however  im- 
portant it  may  be  homiletically  and  ethically.  Never- 
theless, it  must  not  be  forgotten,  in  passing  judgment  on 
the  details  of  this  literature,  that  Biblical  research  was 
conducted  in  the  main  for  purposes  of  edification,  that 
every  verse  was  thought  to  be  capable  of  many  interpre- 
tations, and  tliat  only  incidentally  the  text  was  ex- 
pounded in  the  truly  exegetical  way,  which  aims  to  de- 
termine the  correct  reading,  the  historical  allusion  and 
the  exact  authorship.  And  again,  though  the  "  derash  " 
the  derived  or  forced  explanation  was  popular  and  the 
"  peshat "  or  natural  meaning  of  a  passage  was  not,  as 
a  rule,  aimed  at,  we  cannot  close  our  eyes  to  the  truth 
that  some  of  the  men,  who  produced  the  ]\Iidrashim  were 
among  the  main  workers  in  the  field  of  the  Masora, 
which  established  by  means  of  the  vowel  points  and 
punctuation,  the  correct  reading  of  the  Hebrew  text  of 
the  Scriptures.  Nor  must  we  lose  sight  of  the  problems 
of  authorship  and  of  the  valuable  emendations  which  the 
Talmud  discussed,  allusions  to  which  may  be  met  in 
every  modern  Biblical  commentary.  Thus,  for  exam- 
ple, we  find  in  the  ]\Iishnah,  Talmud,  and  ^lidrashim 
caution  against  the  careless  pronunciation  and  writing 
of  similar  letters  of  the  Hebrew  alphabet   (in  order  to 

26  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

avoid  misunderstanding),  indications  of  the  special 
meanings  of  the  various  verbal  forms  in  Hebrew,  the 
mention  of  the  fact  that  there  is  no  chronological  order 
in  the  Pentateuch  and  other  scriptural  books,  the  trans- 
positon  of  phrases,  changes  m  the  order  of  the  words 
of  the  text,  changes  in  reading,  the  separation  of  the 
various  sections,  explanations  on  the  basis  of  etymology, 
the  numerical  value  of  the  component  letters  of  a  word, 
the  various  shades  of  meaning  which  such  a  word  as 
"  ki "  usually  translated  "  for  "  has  in  the  Hebrew,  and 
many  other  points,  helping  the  modern  critic  materially 
in  making  his  discoveries. 

A  factor,  running  parallel  to  the  Mishnah  and  Tal- 
mud, and  yielding  considerable  material  of  exegetical 
value,  from  the  Jewish  point  of  view,  is  the  variety  of 
translations  of  the  old  Testament  text  and  the  discus- 
sions of  Biblical  and  Jewish  questions  which  came  into 
existence  from  time  to  time  during  this  period. 

It  makes  no  difference  whether  the  translations  in 
question  are  from  the  pens  of  Jews  or  non-Jews.  In 
every  single  instance,  where  the  non-Jew  is  responsible 
for  the  translation,  the  knowledge  shown  in  the  making 
of  the  translation  was  acquired  from  Jewish  savants. 

First  and  foremost  let  us  consider  the  Targimis,  the 
Aramaic  translations. 

A  very  old,  in  fact  the  oldest  translation  of  the  Old 
Testament  in  Aramaic  is  the  "  Targum  shel  Kethub- 
him,"  the  Targum  of  the  Hagiographa.  Thirty  years 
before  the  destruction  of  the  second  temple  in  Jerusalem, 
Rabbi  Gamliel  I  knew  of  its  existence,  for  he  refers  to 
the  confiscation  of  the  part  dealing  with  the  book  of 
Job.  This  translation  may  have  been  embodied  in  an- 
other translation  known  as  the  Jerusalem  Targum. 

Commentators  of  Talmudic  Pi^riod  27 

The  Jerusalem  Targnm  is  a  paraphrase  to  the  tliroo 
sections  of  the  Old  Testament.  Of  this  only  fragments  are 
preserved.  It  was,  in  all  probability,  used  as  a  basis  for 
the  works  of  Onqelos  and  Jonathan  to  be  treated  later. 
The  language  of  the  Jerusalem  Targum  is  the  Western 
Aramaic,  and  consists  of  a  mixture  of  Hebrew,  Syriac 
and  Greek  elements.  It  is  influenced  greatly  by  Greek 
thouglit  and  sliows  marked  care  in  tlie  explanation  of 
anthropomorphistic  expressions. 

E.  g.  Gen.  11:23,  "And  God  created  man"  is  ren- 
dered by  the  Jerusalem  Targiim,  "  And  the  word  of  the 
Lord  created  man.'^ 

Another  Aramaic  translation  is  the  Targum  Jonathan, 
called  so  because  ascribed  to  a  certain  Jonathan  b.  Uziel, 
on  the  authority  of  the  Talmud  (Megillah  3a)  where  it 
is  declared  that  Jonathan,  son  of  Uziel,  a  disciple  of 
Ilillel,  produced  the  Aramaic  translation  of  the  Proph- 
ets. It  is  also  termed  \ti  DUin  "  our  translation  "  as 
used  by  Palestinean  Jewsto  distinguish  it  from  the  Baby- 
lonian Aramaic  translation  of  Onqelos.  Based  on  the 
Jerusalem  Targum,  its  language  is  also  the  Western  Ara- 
maic. Its  principal  peculiarity  is,  that  it  is  explanatory  of 
the  original  text.  The  Targum  Jonathan  of  the  various 
parts  of  the  Old  Testament  is  not  all  by  one  author.  That 
of  the  Pentateuch,  however,  is  by  one  man.  To  illustrate 
its  peculiarity  just  referred  to,  let  us  take  the  following 
passages : 

a.  Gen.  3:  6,  "ye  shall  become  like  God"  is  ren- 
dered "  like  great  angels." 

b.  Gen.  30 :  2,  "  Am  I  in  God's  stead  "  is  rendered 
"  Instead  of  your  asking  it  of  me,  ask  it  of  God." 

c.  Lev.  10:  4,  "Thou  shalt  not  curse  the  deaf"  is 
rendered  "  Do  not  curse  him  who  does  not  hear." 

28  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

(1.  Doiit.  2G:  0,  "a  land  flowing  with  milk  and 
honey."  The  Targiim  Jonathan  renders  this:  "a  land 
whose  fruit  is  fat  like  milk  and  sweet  as  honey/' 

Tlie  Tar<i;iiiu  Jonathan,  to  the  prophets  consists  of 
two  recensions,  one  of  very  early  date,  and  one  more 
recent.  The  latter  is  given  in  the  text  known  as  Miq- 
raoth  Gedoloth. 

An,d  still  another  Aramaic  translation  is  the  Targiim 
Onqelos.  It  is  WTitten  in  the  Eastern  Aramaic  dialect, 
and  is  reported  by  the  Talmnd  (^Megillah  3a)  to  be  the 
work  of  the  Proselyte  Onqelos.  It  covers  only  the  Pen- 
tateuch. Its  character  is  illustrated  by  the  following 
passages : 

Gen.  2 :  24  reads,  "  Therefore  shall  a  man  leave  his 
father  and  his  mother,"  which  Onqelos  rendered : 
"  Everyone  should  leave  the  sleeping  chamber  of  his 

1).  Gen.  4:7,"  If  thou  doest  well,  shalt  thou  not  be 
accepted?"  which  Onqelos  rendered,  "If  3'ou  improve 
your  conduct,  you  will  be  forgiven." 

c.  Ex.  1 :  22,  "  Every  son  that  is  born,"  "Onqelos 
emended  with  the  word  'Nnn'S  so  that  the  passage  reads 
"  Every  son  that  is  born  to  the  Jews." 

d.  In  Ex.  3.  1  we  have  a  complete  change  of  diction. 
The  phrase  "  the  mountain  of  God,"  Onqelos  rendered 
"  the  mountain,  on  which  the  glory  of  God  revealed  it- 

e.  In  Ex.  35 :  31  the  phrase,  "  the  spirit  of  God  "  is 
rendered  "  the  spirit  of  prophecy  from  God." 

f.  Num.  23 :  19  reads  "  God  is  not  a  man  that  He 
should  lie,"  which  is  rendered  by  Onqelos,  "  not  like  the 
words  of  men  is  the  decree  of  God." 

Commentators  of  Talmudic  Period  29 

g.  Dcut.  20 :  19,  "  for  thr^  tree  of  the  fiel^  i?  man's 
life"  is  ivndi'ird  by  OiKjclos,  "  beliold  not  like  man  is 
tree  of  the  fiekl.'^ 

In  addition  to  tlie  Aramaic  translations  we  have  the 
Greek  translations: 

a.  The  Septiiagint.  It  certainly  reflects  the  Jewish 

b.  The  Greek  translation  of  Aqila.  It  is  a  liberal 
Greek  renderin«i^  of  the  Old  Testament  text,  is  in- 
ferior to  the  LXX  in  diction,  but  is  superior  to  it  in  ac- 
curacy, and  reflects  the  scholarship  of  Jaljneh.  It  is  from 
the  pen  of  the  same  Onqelos  to  whom  the  Targum  On- 
qelos  is  ascribed.  The  other  existing  Greek  versions,  the 
Peshitta  in  Svriac  and  St.  Jerome's  Latin  versions  were 
all  influenced  l)y  Jewish  teachers  and  may  be  regarded  as 
the  avenues,  through  which  much  of  the  Jewish  Biblical 
exegesis  came  down  to  us. 

Two  other  sources  of  Biblical  exegesis  exist  which 
have  not  been  touched  upon  by  us  thus  far.  They  are 
not  translations,  but  works  discussing  subjects  of  a  Bib- 
lical character.  I  refer  to  the  works  of  Philo  and  Jose- 
phus.  Philo  may  be  called  the  representative  of  the 
Alexandrian  Jewish  Exegetes  who,  in  his  writings,  para- 
phrases, Pentateuchal  storicj  and  institutions,  gives  a 
running  commentary  of  the  Biblical  text,  and  attempts 
to  prove  that  Greek  philosophy  may  be  employed  to  ex- 
plain Biblical  terms. 

Josephus,  who  lived  at  the  time  of  the  siege  of  Jeru- 
salem and  witnessed  the  downfall  of  the  Jewish  state  and 
nation,  treats  in  the  first  part  of  his  "  Antiquities  " 
many  of  the  narrative  portions  of  Scriptures,  and  hence 
may  be  Justly  regarded  an  interpreter  of  the  Bible,  in 
addition  to  being  considered  an  historian. 

30  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

The  literature  thus  far  mentioned  comprises  the  first 
attempts  made  by  Jews  to  explain  the  meaning  of  the 
Old  Testament,  as  a  whole,  of  its  component  books  and 
separate  passages. 

Leaving  the  Talmudical  period,  in  which,  for  the  most 
part,  the  Midrashic  method  obtained,  we  encounter  view- 
points which  differ  radically  from  those  held  by  the  Tal- 
mndic  teachers  and  their  contemporaries,  although  the 
more  recent  view  points  may  have  been,  and  in  all  likeli- 
hood were,  built  upon  or  evolved  out  of  the  Midrashic 
method.  The  causes  which  led  to  the  change  and  the 
men  who  championed  the  more  recent  method  of  inter- 
pretation will  constitute  the  subject  of  the  next  chapter. 


The  Karaites  and  Saadia 

The  year  500  of  the  Common  Era  marks  the  begin- 
ning of  a  new  epoch,  not  only  in  the  history  of  the  Jew- 
ish people,  but  also  in  their  literature.  The  view  point 
of  Jews,  with  regard  to  all  subjects,  had  undergone  a 
marvelous  change,  on  account  of  changed  cultural  con- 
ditions. The  Biblical  exegesis  which  constituted  their 
main  pursuit,  could  by  no  means  remain  unaffected. 
That  of  the  Talmudical  period,  treated  in  the  previous 
chapter,  had  been  the  product  of  the  schools  of  Palestine 
and  Babylonia.  In  its  creation,  the  Babylonian  teachers 
certainly  played  the  more  prominent  part,  inasmuch  as 
the  Jewish  centre  of  gravity  had  shifted  from  Palestine 
to  Babylonia  at  an  early  date,  after  the  destruction  of 
the  Temple  in  Jerusalem.  It  is  true,  Palestine  could 
boast  of  prominent  academies,  established  for  the  in- 
terpretation of  Scriptures,  but  they  could  not  compare, 
either  in  number  or  efficiency,  with  those  which  re- 
dounded to  the  glory  of  Babylonian  Jewry. 

In  Babylonia,  the  Jews  enjoyed,  to  a  certain  extent, 
political  independence.  While  they  were  under  the  con- 
trol of  the  Babylonian  Government,  they  had,  at  their 
head,  an  "  Exilarch  ^'  known  by  the  Aramaic  title,  "  Resli 
Geluthah."  This  dignitary,  descendant  as  he  was  of  the 
Davidic  family,  enjoyed  the  respect  and  acknowledgment 
of  the  State  authorities.  It  is  difficult  to  say,  at  what 
time  this  office  was  first  created.  Documentary  evidence, 

34:  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 


to  some  extent,  warrants  us  in  holding  the  opinion,  that 
tlic  office  dates  back  to  the  time,  when  Babylon  was  a 
part  of  the  Parthian  Empire;  that  it  continued  during 
the  rule  of  the  Sassinades,  and  survived  for  several  cen- 
turies during  Arabic  sway.  One  of  the  functions  of  the 
Exilarch  was  the  appointment  of  judges.  He  had  juris- 
diction in  criminal  cases.  He  enjoyed  special  honor  also 
in  the  Synagogue.  A  proof  of  the  last  mentioned  fact 
is  the  circumstance,  that  the  scroll  of  the  law  was  car- 
ried to  him  during  divine  service,  while  all  others  had 
to  approach  the  scroll,  when  the  benediction  over  the 
scroll  was  to  be  recited  by  them.  Enjoying  the  privilege 
of  maintaining  a  Court,  the  Exilarch  was  permitted  to 
levy  taxes  on  the  various  provinces  of  Babylonia,  in 
which  the  Jews  resided. 

Granted  such  political  and  religious  autonomy,  it  was 
but  natural  for  Jews  to  prefer  to  live  in  Babylonia,  to 
living  in  Palestine,  howsoever  dear  Palestine  was  to 
them,  as  the  source  of  the  holiest  memories  in  their  his- 
tory. It  was,  therefore,  that  many  Jews,  who  had  been 
bom  and  reared  in  Palestine,  migrated,  often'  at  an  ad- 
vanced age,  to  Babylonia.  As  the  Jewish  population  of 
Babylonia  increased,  the  schools  in  Babylonia  became 
more  numerous  than  the  Palestinean  academies.  They 
also  acquired  greater  prominence,  and,  eventually, 
greater  authority,  in  view  of  their  superiority,  depend- 
ent for  the  most  part  on  the  celebrity  of  their  scholars. 
Two  of  these  schools,  more  particularly,  grew  in  influ- 
ence. Those  schools  were  the  academies  of  Sora  and 
Pumbeditlia.  At  the  head  of  these  schools  were  men  who 
were  known  by  the  title,  "  Gaonim,"  literally,  "  the 
noble  ones  " ;  also  termed  the  "  Koshe  Yeshibha,"  "  heads 

The  Karaites  and  Saadia  35 

of  the  academy,"  a  title  which  came  into  existence  about 
the  close  of  the  sixth  century. 

The  Gaoniiii  constituted,  in  regular  order  of  succes- 
sion, the  fourth  class  of  savants  whose  lives  were  de- 
voted to  the  study,  teaching,  and  interpretation,  not  only 
of  the  law  of  Closes,  but  of  the  entire  Bible.  The  four 
classes  here  referred  to,  are  the  following: 

The  first  are  the  Tanaini — the  teachers  of  the  Mish- 

Tlie  second  arc  the  Amoraim,  the  teachers  of  the 
Talmud,  who  interpreted  the  Mishnah. 

The  third  are  the  Saboraim  who  edited  the  Talmud. 

The  fourth  are  the  Gaonim,  who  in  turn  interpreted 
the  Talmud,  and  based  their  religio-legal  decisions  on 
the  Talmudic  teachings. 

Before  men  could  rise  to  the  prominent  position  of 
Gaon,  they  had  to  be  elected  by  the  academy.  Their 
learning,  howsoever  great,  was,  by  no  means,  the  sesame, 
that  opened  for  them  the  door  to  this  scholastic  promi- 
nence. Occasionally,  however,  they  were  appointed  by 
the  Exilarch,  who  communally  stood  above  the  Gaonim, 
and,  whenever  so  appointed,  they  nevertheless  remained 
altogether  independent  of  him. 

While  both  Sora  and  Pumbeditha  had  their  Gaonim, 
the  Gaon  of  Sora,  in  every  single  instance,  occupied  a 
higher  position  than  the  Gaon  of  Pumbeditha;  in  fact,  if 
the  Exilarch  died,  during  the  administration  of  a  Gaon 
at  Sora,  the  latter  enjoyed  the  official  income  of  the  Exi- 
larch, until  another  Exilarch  was  appointed.  The  Gaon 
of  Sora  undoubtedly  owed  his  superior  rank  over  his  col- 
league in  Pumbeditha,  to  the  superiority  of  the  school  of 
Sora,  and  it  was  only  when  the  school  of  Sora  closed 

36  Jewish  Biblical  Commi:ntatoks 

its  doors  for  all  time  to  come,  in  the  middla  of  the 
eleventh  century,  that  the  office  of  Gaon  went  out  of 

In  the  field  of  Biblical  exegesis,  the  Gaonim  did  not 
strike  out  along  altogether  new  lines,  until  the  middle 
of  the  seventh  century.  They  rather  continued  with 
very  slight  variations,  that  Midrashic  interpretation  of 
Scriptures,  marking  the  works  of  the  Talmudic  period. 
That  eventually  the  Midrashic  method  of  interpretation 
should  have  been  abandoned,  is  not  surprising.  Valua- 
ble as  the  "  derash  "  seemed  to  be,  some  of  the  interpre- 
tations of  this  character  were  carried  to  extremes,  in  the 
attempt  to  make  every  Biblical  passage  serve  homiletical 
purposes.  The  interpretation  of  the  law  was  at  times, 
so  far  fetched  and  so  fanciful,  that  it  was  sure  to  meet 
with  opposition.  The  Bible  itself,  on  account  of  the 
Midrashic  method,  was  made  secondary  to  its  interpre- 
tation. Some  of  the  teachers  began  to  realize  that  the 
Talmud  was^  on  this  account,  supplanting  the  Bible, 
in  the  estimation  of  the  people.  The  undue  reverence 
for  the  Talmud,  at  the  expense  of  the  Scriptures,  had  to 
be  overcome.  A  movement  was,  therefore,  set  on  foot 
to  reinstate  the  Bible  into  its  proper  place.  This  move- 
ment was  inaugurated  by  no  obscure  individual,  who 
hailed  from  some  out-of-the-way  place,  but  by  one  who 
belonged  to  the  distinguished  family  of  the  Exilarch. 

In  order  to  imderstand  thoroughly  the  influence  which 
the  originator  of  the  movement  just  referred  to,  exer- 
cised, it  may  be  well  to  consider  him  in  the  light  of  his 
social  rank.  The  Exilarch  Solomon  had  died  without 
issue,  in  701,  and  the  office  was  to  have  been  conferred 
on  his  nephew,  Anan  ben  David.    Anan  ben  David  waa 

TjIE    Ka KAITKS    AND    SaADIA  37 

deemed  1111  Ht  for  the  position.  There  was  personal  ob- 
jection to  111  in.  IFe  was  prosuinptuons  and  overbearing, 
while  his  brother,  on  the  otlier  hand,  was  nnassuming 
and  modest.  ITe  also  manifested  a  decided  lukewarm- 
ness  towards  traditional  Judaism ;  a  lukewarmness 
amounting  almost  to  disdain.  What  made  him  indif- 
ferent towards  the  traditions  of  his  ])oopl('  was  his  lonir 
sojourn  in  the  Persian  Mesopotamian  borderlands, 
where  he  was  not  only  not  under  the  influence  of  the 
prevailing  Jewish  thought,  bnt  also  where  he  did  not  re- 
main altogether  nnaffected  by  the  propaganda  of  the 

At  his  time,  the  weak  remnants  of  Sadduceism  and 
Essenism,  which  dated  tlieir  origin  })ack  as  far  as  the  sec- 
ond century  before  the  Christian  Era,  made  themselves 
felt  once  more,  amid  the  counter  currents  which  were 
sweeping  across  Jewish  thought. 

Keenly  disappointed  because  not  elected  Exilarch, 
Anan  ben  David  allowed  himself  to  be  proclaimed  Anti- 
Exilarch.  Jewish  politics,  despite  the  comparative  Jew- 
ish independence,  was  not  altogether  unwatched  by  the 
State  authorities.  Whenever  differences  arose  within 
the  Jewish  fold,  the  State  authorities  took  a  leading 
part  in  the  settlement.  The  Mohammedan  Caliphs,  hav- 
ing learned  of  Anan's  determination  to  rule  as  Exilarch, 
had  him  arrested,  threw  him  into  prison,  and  would  have 
had  him  executed,  had  he  not  followed  the  advice  of  a  fel- 
low prisoner,  founder  of  the  great  ]\[ohammedan  Casuists, 
the  Hanafites,  who  counselled  him  to  interpret  all  am- 
biguous and  doubtful  precepts  of  the  law  in  a  manner 
directly  opposed  to  the  traditional  int-erpretation,  and 
thus  found  a  new  religious  sect.    The  Jews  were  looked 

38  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

upon  as  "  unbelievers "  by  tbe  Mohammedans,  and  it 
was  felt,  that  if  Anan  were  supposed  to  differ  from  the 
Jews,  as  known  to  the  Caliphate,  the  Caliphate  would 
look  with  favor  upon  the  new  sect,  and  its  founder. 
Anan  accepted  the  advice.  He  was  set  free,  and  won 
not  only  the  connivance,  but  also  the  support  of  the  Mo- 
hammedan authorities.  Xo  sooner  set  free,  than  he 
devoted  himself  to  the  promotion  of  his  new  cause.  He 
went  to  Palestine  and  built  a  synagogue  at  Jerusalem, 
in  which  the  ritual  in  vogue  was  different  from  that 
known  in  the  S3'nagogues  recognized  by  Eabbinical  au- 
thority. Realizing  that  he  was  looked  upon  in  the  light 
of  a  dissenter,  Anan's  hostility  toward  the  Gaonate  and 
his  animosity  against  the  Talmud  continued  to  grow 
more  intense.  The  remark  is  ascribed  to  him  :  "  I  wish 
that  all  the  adherents  of  the  Talmud  were  in  my  body, 
so  that  by  killing  myself  I  would  at  the  same  time  kill 
them."  He  did  not  hesitate  to  accuse  the  Talmudists, 
including,  of  course,  the  Midrashic  interpreters  of  Scrip- 
tures, of  having  corrupted  Judaism,  of  having  added  to 
the  Torah  many  things  not  warranted  by  the  text,  and 
of  having  disregarded  some  of  the  more  important  in- 
stitutions, which  should  be  considered  bone  and  sinew  of 
Israel  as  a  people  and  of  its  religious  life.  The  motto, 
which  guided  Anan  was,  "  Seek  the  Scriptures  indus- 
triously." His  battle  cry  seemed  to  be,  "  Back  to  the 
Bible."  In  contradistinction  to  the  Talmudists,  called 
"  Rabbinites,"  because  adhering  to  that  Rabbinical  tra- 
dition, supposed  to  explain  the  law  and  its  intent,  the 
followers  of  Anan  ben  David  are  known  in  history  as 
the  Karaites  (Keraim,  Baale  Mikra,  Bene  Mikra),  fol- 
lowers of  the  Bible,  and  the  movement  represented  by 

TiiK  Karaites  and  Saadta  39 

tlicni  was  icrmcd  Karaism.  Anan  is  reported  to  have  ex- 
])oiinded  his  views  concerning  religious  commandments 
and  prohihitions,  in  three  works,  one  of  wliich  was  a 
commentary  to  the  Pentateuch.  Tliese  works  have  un- 
fortunately been  lost.  The  later  development  of  the 
Karaitic  movement,  however,  showed  that  Anan  took  so 
l)old  a  stand  against  Talmudic  exposition  that  lie  went 
to  unwarranted  extremes  in  his  method,  which  consisted 
of  the  literal  exposition  of  Scriptures.  Opposed  as  he 
was  to  Rabbinical  tradition,  he  did  not  steer  clear  en- 
tirely of  the  method  of  the  Eabbinites.  He  fell  into  the 
very  net,  from  the  meshes  of  which  he  endeavored  to 
extricate  himself.  Thus,  for  example,  he  made  use  of 
the  Mishnic  rules  of  interpretation,  in  deducing  the  new 
laws  of  his  religion.  Among  the  many  things  that  he 
effected,  are  the  following:  He  abolished  the  fixed  calen- 
dar, which  had  been  in  vogue  for  five  chturies.  Being  a 
literalist,  he  in  some  instances,  outdid  the  Rabbinites  m 
rigorousness.  This  is  evident  in  the  observances  of  the 
Sabbath,  the  laws  regarding  food  forbidden  to  be  eaten, 
and  the  institution  of  marjage.  Things  that  he  forbade 
were  the  laying  of  the  Phylacteries,  the  use  of  the  festal 
plants  on  the  Feast  of  Tabernacles,  and  the  celebration 
of  the  Feast  of  Dedication.  He  changed  also  the  cycle 
of  Scriptural  reading  for  the  Sabbaths. 

Justification  as  there  may  have  been,  to  some  extent, 
in  the  Karaitic  movement,  it  must  not  be  forgotten  that 
the  literalism  of  interpretation  made  for  a  point  which 
was  equalled  in  danger  only  by  the  extreme  to  which 
Rabbinism  had  gone  before  the  advent  of  Anan.  Nor 
must  it'be  forgotten  that  the  natural  changes,  which  are 
brought  about  in  the  culture  of  a  people,  during  cen- 

40  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

turies  of  existence,  and  which  form  the  force  known  as 
tradition,  are  the  determining  elements  in  the  develop- 
ment of  the  cause  the  people  may  represent.  And  yet, 
extravagant  as  Karaism  may  have  been,  and  anxious  as 
it  was  to  bring  about  a  revolution  against  an  ingenuity 
run  riot  in  the  method  of  Talmudical  interpretation,  it 
must  be  conceded  that  Karaism  gave  to  Biblical  criti- 
cism, as  it  did  to  Judaism,  a  healthy  stimulus  for  Bible 
study,  along  more  careful  and  rational  lines,  even  in 
circles  beyond  its  own  territory.  Although  Karaism 
divided  the  Jewish  people  into  two  factions,  a  cleavage 
which  since  the  time  of  Anan  has  not  been  repaired,  it 
proved  a  blessing  in  disguise.  Nor  was  Karaism  simply 
a  temporary  phenomenon.  Because  of  the  novelty  of  its 
thought,  and  its  revolutionary  tendency  against  Tal- 
mudism,  Karaism  made  many  converts  during  the  first 
centuries  of  its  existence,  in  Egypt,  Palestine,  Syria, 
Babylonia,  and  Persia.  In  course  of  time,  it  extended 
even  to  the  Byzantine  Empire,  and  about  the  thirteenth 
century  it  made  its  way  into  Russia,  where  almost  all  the 
living  exponents  of  the  movement  are  confined. 

In  the  century  and  a  half  following  Anan,  Karaism 
produced  no  prominent  work  in  the  field  of  Biblical 
exegesis.  Among  those  who  devoted  themselves  to  the 
work  are  the  following:  Benjamin  Nahawendi,  who  ap- 
plied the  allegorical  method  of  exposition,  in  a  manner 
resembling  that  of  Philo;  Juclghan  of  Hamarlan,  known 
as  Judah  the  Persian,  who  expounded  the  theory  that 
the  law  had  both  exoteric  and  esoteric  significance ;  Hivi 
of  Balkh,  who  attempted  to  criticize  the  subject  matter 
of  the  Bible,  on  rational  grounds,  and  claimed  to  have 
discovered  two  hundred  reasons,  both  historical  and 
legal,  against  the  authenticity  of  the  Pentateuch. 

The  Karaites  and  Saadia  41 

Tlio  l)iilk  of  oxegetical  literature  produeed  by  Ka- 
raites, came  into  existence  several  centuries  later,  and 
was  inspired  by  the  example  of  Rabbinism,  which  was 
all  this  time  producing  important  exegetical  literature. 
It  is  not  necessary,  in  this  connection,  to  give  the  names 
of  the  Karaitic  Biblical  exegetes,  living  several  centuries 
after  Anan.  Suffice  it  to  say,  that  their  literary  works 
are  comment-aries  on  the  Pentateuch  and  otlier  Biblical 
books,  and  treatises  on  the  grammar  of  the  Hebrew 
language.  However,  it  is  no  more  than  just  to  state  that 
the  Karaites  of  the  tenth  and  eleventh  centuries,  who 
contributed  to  Biblical  exegeses,  rendered,  at  times,  valu- 
able service,  since  at  this  late  day,  the  animosity  of  Ka- 
raism  against  Ral)binism  had  become  considerably  miti- 
gated, and  the  judgment  of  Karaites  had  become  calmer. 

While  Eabbinism  had  a  greater  number  of  followers 
than  Karaism,  it,  by  no  means,  looked  with  indifference 
upon  the  new  movement.  Eabbinism  regarded  it  as  it 
would  every  other  revolutionary  power,  in  the  light  of  an 
enemy,  which,  in  all  probability,  would,  in  course  of 
time,  become  a  formidable  rival.  Eabbinism,  therefore, 
felt  itself  called  upon  to  answer  the  charges  made  against 
it,  and  reconstruct,  if  this  were  necessary,  the  Midrashic 
element  of  interpretation,  which  had  been  so  carefully 
developed  during  ten  centuries  of  scholastic  activity. 
Eabbinism  was  prepared  to  acknowledge  its  weaknesses. 
It  was  willing  to  remedy  its  faults.  It  preferred  recon- 
struction to  seeing  traditions  suffer  the  complete  loss  of 
respect  and  confidence  among  the  people. 

Towards  the  close  of  the  ninth  century,  the  first  cham- 
pion of  the  new  interpretation  of  Eabbinism  made  his 
appearance.     The  man.  to  vrbom  reference  is  made,  is 

,42  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

Saadia  ben  Joseph,  who  was  born  in  the  City  of  Fayum, 
in  upper  Egypt,  in  892,  and  died  in  942  at  tlie  age  of 

Very  little  is  known  about  his  youth  and  education. 
Xumerous  conjectures  exist  as  to  the  identity  of  his 
teachers.  One  man  supposes  him  to  have  been  the  disciple 
of  a  certain  Abu  Kathir;  another  believes  him  to  have 
sat  at  the  feet  of  the  Karaite,  Salman  ben  Jerucham, 
against  whom  he,  later  in  life,  waged  bitter  war.  The 
works  he  wrote,  however,  indicate  that  for  the  time  in 
which  he  lived,  his  education  was  a  many  sided  one.  He 
was  not  only  master  of  the  Hebrew  language  and  all  the 
literature  written  in  it,  but  also  the  master  of  the  xA.raljic 
tongue.  He  devoted  himself  to  philosophy  and  famil- 
iarized himself  thoroughly  with  the  sacred  literature  of 
Christianity  and  Islam.  His  reputation  soon  spread 
from  his  native  country  to  the  center  of  Jewish  life. 
Probably  he  never  dreamed  in  his  youth,  of  being  pro- 
moted to  the  dignity  of  Gaon.  His  superiority,  how- 
ever, soon  won  for  him  this  exalted  position.  In  928  he 
was  elected  to  become  the  head  of  the  school  of  Sora, 
because  of  the  very  qualities  which  his  opponent  claimed 
rendered  him  unfit  for  the  position.  It  w^as  held  that, 
while  Saadia  surpassed  all  his  contemporaries  in  wisdom, 
piety,  and  eloquence,  his  very  independent  spirit  made 
him  shrink  from  no  undertaking.  It  was  regarded  an 
exceptional  instance  for  an  Eg}^ptian  Jew,  who  had  not 
been  reared  in  the  Talmudic  atmosphere  of  the  Baby- 
lonian schools,  to  be  called  to  preside  over  the  academy 
of  Sora.  Philosopher  as  Saadia  was,  he  added  to  the  al- 
ready very  great  glory  of  that  Babylonian  academy.  Sora 
soon  became  known,  through  him,  not  only  for  its  Tal- 

Tjik  Kakaiti:.s  and  Saadia  43 

mudic,  but  also  for  its  philosophical  disciplines.  As  he 
added  to  the  splendor  of  Sora,  the  school  of  Puiiiljeditha 
continued  to  suffer  a  gradual  loss  of  its  former  greatness. 
Saadia's  praiseworthy  independence  against  the  Exilarch 
David,  who  wanted  him  to  act  contrary  to  the  dictates 
of  his  conscience,  induced  David  to  depose  him,  where- 
upon Saadia  turned  upon  David,  and  deposed  the  latter. 
Two  factions  thus  arose  in  Babylonia,  among  the  Rab- 
l)inites,  each  of  which  applied  to  the  Cali])hate  for 
intercession.  In  response  to  bribes,  David  was  endorsed 
by  the  Caliph.  Saadia,  nevertheless,  asserted  his  au- 
thority as  Gaon,  and  it  was  only  upon  the  death  of  the 
Caliph,  when  money  again  began  to  pour  from  David's 
purse  into  the  coffers  of  the  new  ruler,  that  Saadia  was 
compelled  to  live  in  Bagdad  in  retirement  for  four  years. 
Saadia  was  a  prolific  writer  on  every  subject  in  which 
he  had  received  training.  He  produced  an  Arabic  trans- 
lation of  the  Pentateuch  and  the  other  Biblical  books, 
with  a  commentary  written  also  in  Arabic.  The  only 
books  extant  are  the  Pentateuch,  Isaiah,  Psalms,  Prov- 
erbs, and  fragments  of  the  Book  of  Job.  In  his  trans- 
lation he  figures  as  the  exponent  of  the  "  Peshat,"  "  the 
simple  explanation,"  combining  in  the  same,  reason  and 
tradition.  This  translation  was,  therefore,  also  explana- 
tory, without  possessing  the  character  of  the  paraphrase. 
In  the  introduction  to  this  work,  Saadia  states  that  he 
underakes  the  task  upon  the  request  of  many  for  a  trans- 
lation of  the  Torah,  with  special  reference  to  the  linguis- 
tic sense,  in  order  to  make  the  Torah  more  intelligible 
to  the  people.  His  philosophical  work,  entitled  "  Sefer 
Ha-emunoth  Vedeoth"  on  the  philosophy  of  religion, and 
his  commentarv  on  the  book  of  Creation,  "  Sefer  Yezi- 

44  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

rah"  must  bo  mentioned  also  in  tliis  connection,  as 
throwinf^  light  on  the  many  passages  of  Scriptures  which 
required  exegetical  explanation.  The  linguistic  treat- 
ises he  left,  also,  are  worthy  of  note  here.  That  of  spe- 
cial interest  is  the  "  Sefer  Lashon  Ivri,"  a  book  on  the 
Hebrew  language,  in  which  he  treats  details  of  Hebrew 
grammar.  Two  other  books  of  interest,  from  his  pen, 
are  the  one  on  "  Hapax-legomena,"  and  the  other  on  the 
"  Elegance  of  the  Hebrew  Language,"  "  Sefer  Zechuth." 
Saadia  figures  as  champion  of  that  rational  traditional- 
ism in  interpretation,  for  which  the  conditions  of  the 
times  called.  Reason  is  with  him  the  basis  of  Scriptural 
exegesis.  He  claims  that  the  exposition  of  the  Bible 
must  contain  nothing  that  is  obscure,  or  nothing  that 
contradicts  logic.  His  interpretation  is  not  limited  by 
the  reproduction  of  simple  words  and  sentences,  but  takes 
into  consideration  the  "  Tendcnz  "  of  the  books  as  entire- 
ties, and  the  relation  in  which  the  component  chapters 
of  books,  stand  to  one  another.  He  believed  in  miracle-? 
and  the  divine  origin  of  the  Bible.  He  took  into  account 
the  collateral  authority  of  Scriptures  themseh'es,  as  a 
source  of  exegesis,  and  did  not  fail  to  lay  stress  upon 
the  authority  of  tradition.  Saadia  followed  the  exam- 
ples of  the  TargumSj  in  the  explanation  of  anthropomor- 
phisms. The  understanding  of  his  translation  was  pro- 
moted by  his  invariable  attempt  not  to  permit  the  ob- 
scure to  remain,  and  because  he  used  Arabic  words  for 
expressions  of  the  Bible,  which,  while  they  were  not  al- 
together warranted  by  the  text,  made  the  text  clear.  Tt 
is  on  this  score  that  Ibn  Ezra  criticized  him,  as  well  as 
for  his  habit  of  giving  terms  connotations  not  warranted 
by  their  real  meaning. 

The  Karaites  and  Saadia  45 

The  point  to  which  special  attention  should  be  di- 
rected in  the  exegesis  of  Saadia,  is  his  theory,  that  in 
the  Bible  we  have  frequent  ellipses.  Thus,  for  example, 
in  his  commentan^  where  he  speaks  of  the  law  of  the  half- 
shekel,  commanded  in  Exodus  30:11-10,  we  find  him 
saying  that  in  Chronicles  5 :  6  and  9,  between  the  words 
'"  Masath  "  and  "  Mosheh,"  the  word  "  Am  "  should  be 
supplied,  so  that  the  text  would  read,  "  The  numbering 
of  the  people  of  Moses."  He  claims  that  there  are  ten 
ellipses  in  the  Bible,  which  must  be  supplied  after  the 
verb  "  N'asa  "  "to  lift  up."  As  pioneer  of  an  exegesis 
independent  of  the  iron-clad  traditional  Midrashic 
thought,  Saadia  soon  won  many  followers,  both  among 
his  contemporaries  and  his  immediate  successors.  These 
are  Samuel  ben  Chofni  (who  died  1034)  and  who  fol- 
lows Saadia  in  his  explanation  of  the  Pentateuch,  al- 
though adhering  to  the  Hebrew  text  more  strictly  than 
Saadia ;  Aaron  Ibn  Sargado,  head  of  the  school  of  Pum- 
beditha,  who  was  the  author  of  a  commentary  on  the  Pen- 
tateuch ;  the  Gaon  Hai,  Isaac  Israeli ;  Jehudah  Karoisch, 
Chananel  ben  Chushiel,  of  whose  Pentateuchal  com- 
mentary many  examples  have  been  preserved ;  Nissim 
ben  Jacob,  and  Sabbath ai  Donnolo.  With  the  end  of 
Saadia's  life,  the  Babylonian  schools  drew  to  their  close. 
One  of  the  last  of  the  more  prominent  Gaonim  was  She- 
rira,  and  the  last  was  the  Gaon  Hezekiah,  executed  by 
order  of  the  Caliph.  The  decline  of  the  school  of  Sora 
was  no  doubt  the  result  of  the  antagonism  of  the  Moham- 
medans and  the  differences  between  the  Jewish  scholars 
of  those  days.  When,  in  103G,  the  last  Gaon  was  cruelly 
removed  from  his  office,  the  scholars  of  Babylonia  were 
scattered,  and  Babylonia  no  longer  continued  as  the  seat 

46  jEwifciii  JiiiiLicAL  Commentators 

of  Jewish  learning.  Jewish  activity  shifted  to  other 
quarters,  and  with  the  shifting  of  Jewish  activity  into 
another  environment,  the  Biblical  exegesis  among  Jews, 
took  on  a  new  shape  and  a  new  color. 




Grammarians  and  Lexicographers 

Tliat  was  a  sorrowful  day  when  the  schools  of  8ora 
and  Puinhcditha  were  obliged  to  close  their  doors,  never 
again  to  be  reopened  for  the  reception  of  students  and 
the  stud}^  of  the  law  under  the  guidance  of  celebrated 
scholars.  As,  at  one  time,  the  people  did  not  deem  it 
possible  for  Israel  to  survive,  without  the  ownership  of 
Palestine  and  Israel's  separate  existence  as  a  nation,  so, 
in  the  days  of  the  Babylonian  academies,  the  conviction 
was  general,  that  Biblical  knowledge  could  thrive  only 
under  Babylonian  skies.  Little  did  men  dream,  that 
in  the  far  off  Spanish  Peninsula,  the  work,  so  conscien- 
tiously begun  and  faithfully  cultivated  in  the  East, 
would  be  successfully  continued,  and  that  too,  by  men 
not  possessing  less  enthusiasm  for,  and  perseverance  in 
the  study  of  the  Law,  than  their  Palcstinean  and  Baby- 
lonian predecessors. 

Spain  had  been  inliabited  by  Jews  during' the  early 
Christian  centuries.  The  life  of  these  early  Jewish  set- 
tlers was  anything  but  an  enviable  one.  They  were  ex- 
posed to  constant  proscriptions  and  persecutions.  Not 
until  the  conquest  of  Spain  by  the  Mohammedans  in  the 
beginning  of  the  Eighth  Century,  when  spurred  on  by 
African  co-religionists  to  ally  themselves  with  the  Moors, 
did  a  period  of  comparative  prosperity  and  ease  dawn 
for  the  Jews,  who  had  taken  up  their  residence  in  Spain. 

That  the  superior  advantages  enjoyed  by  Spanish  Jews 

50  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

should  have  attracted  to  Spain,  Jews  from  other  coun- 
tries, is  a  circumstance  requiring  but  little  special  punc- 
tuation. From  this  time  on,  Spain  became  the  New- 
Jerusalem,  not  simply  because  it  offered  a  home  to  "  the 
tribe  of  the  wandering  foot,"  but  also  because  from  it 
issued  "  the  law  and  the  word  of  God." 

The  manner  in  which  the  learning  of  the  East  chanced 
to  be  transplanted  to  the  West,  is  one  of  the  most  inter- 
esting incidents  in  the  history  of  those  days.  When  the 
school  of  Sora  was  rapidly  declining  and  its  end  seemed 
near,  its  teachers  desired  to  make  one  last  effort  to  pre- 
vent its  disintegration.  In  the  year  948,  four  teachers 
were,  therefore,  delegated  to  cross  the  Mediterranean 
Sea  and  address  themselves  to  several  communities  for 
subsidies  to  be  voted  the  most  prominent  seat  of  Jewish 
learning  then  in  existence.  The  four  teachers  in  ques- 
tion embarked  on  the  same  vessel,  which  was  captured 
by  the  Spanish- Arabic  Admiral,  Tbn  Eumahis.  One  of 
the  teachers,  Sliemaryah,  was  sent  to  Alexandria;  Chus- 
hiel  to  Cyrene;  Nathan  ben  Isaac  Cohen  to  Narbonne, 
and  Moses  to  Cordova.  With  the  infiltration  of  the 
Babylonian  Jewish  influence,  the  Jews  of  Spain  were 
roused  to  a  consciousness  and  appreciation  of  their  valu- 
able opportunity.  Everything  favored  their  becoming 
the  main  champions  of,  and  the  most  valuable  contribu- 
tors to  the  science  of  Jewish  thought.  The  common 
schools  were  not  closed  to  them,  nor  did  the  higher  seatc 
of  learning  bar  them  from  the  knowledge  these  were 
dispensing.  All  the  sciences  and  arts  welcomed  Jews, 
as  promoters,  provided  they  had  talent  requisite  for  their 
mastery.  Social  equality  with  the  Moors  also  was  not 
denied  them.     Finding  Moorish  activity  to  be  devoted 

Grammarians  and  Lexicographers  51 

to  the  field  of  Arabic  grammar,  the  Spanisli  Jews  soon 
became  mastered  by  an  ambition  to  be  active  in  the  field 
of  Hebrew  grammatical  research.  Many  a  person  felt 
that  the  proper  definition  of  Hebrew  terms,  the  proper 
use  of  various  parts  of  Hebrew  speech,  and  the  proper 
syntactical  correlation  of  sentences,  were  not  yet  thor- 
oughly understood,  even  by  those  who  used  the  Hebrew, 
both  in  their  daily  speech  and  in  their  literary  imder- 
takings;  and  that  Biblical  exegesis  would  certainly  be 
aided  materially,  if  Hebrew  in  these  various  aspects  were 
better  understood.  Xever,  in  all  the  history  of  Israel, 
did  the  future  seem  to  hold  out  richer  promises  than 
were  held  out  to  Jews  in  the  days  constituting  the  Tenta 
Century.  Former  generations  had,  it  is  true,  produced 
celebrities  whose  names  became  enveloped  by  the  rich 
halo  of  immortality.  These  days,  however,  produced 
stars  of  a  higher  magnitude  on  the  horizon  of  Jewish 
scholarship,  than  had  ever  been  attained  before  this 
era.  Men  who  built  wisely  on  the  traditions  of  the  past, 
and,  at  the  same  time,  did  not  fail  to  avail  themselves 
of  the  valuable  researches  made  by  the  Moors;  men  who 
may  be  declared  to  have  separated  the  dross  of  the  fanci- 
ful from  the  purer  metal  of  truth ;  men  who  broke  the 
fetters  binding  their  co-religionists  to  the  unreasonable, 
and  won  the  freedom  of  scientific  speculation ;  men  who 
may  be  regarded  as  the  deliverers,  rescuing  Jewish  exe- 
gesis from  total  stagnation,  are  the  promising  children 
of  this  age,  in  the  development  of  Jewish  culture. 

The  first  authority  to  claim  our  attention  is  Joseph 
Ibn  Abitur,  who  was  born  in  the  year  905  at  Merida,  and 
died  at  Damascus,  in  970.  The  place  of  his  activity  was 
attractive  Cordova,  where  he  was  a  disciple  of  the  Baby- 

52  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

Ionian  Rabbi  Moses,  who  liad  been  sent  out  to  collect 
contributions  for  the  school  of  Sora.  Upon  the  death 
of  his  teacher,  Abitur  was  a  rival  candidate,  with  iiis 
teacher's  son,  for  the  Ealibinate  of  Cordova.  His  fail- 
ure to  get  that  high  office,  filled  him  with  keen  disap- 
pointment, and  although  he  afterwards  could  have  been 
made  the  Eabbi  of  this  Spanish  metropolis,  and  could 
have  had  his  teacher's  son  deposed,  he  was  perfectly  will- 
ing to  deny  himself  that  honor.  Although  engaged,  in 
the  main,  in  writing  liturgical  poetry  for  the  S3TiagogU!3, 
much  of  which  has  found  its  way  into  the  ritual  still  in 
use,  and  which  shows  him  to  have  had  a  deep  insight 
into  the  beauties  of  the  sacred  tongue,  his  activity  was, 
by  no  means,  limited  to  this  class  of  literature.  Tal- 
mudist  as  he  was,  he  could  not  help  but  be  influenced  liy 
the  Talmudic  spirit,  in  his  endeavor  to  establish  the 
correct  sense  of  Scriptures.  He  must  have  written  ex- 
tensively on  the  Biblical  books,  in  spite  of  the  fact  that 
only  fragments  of  his  Commentary  on  the  Book  of 
Psalms  have  come  down  to  us.  His  diction  is  tinged 
with  Aramaisms,  and  the  peculiarity  distinguishing  him 
from  his  predecessors  in  the  field  of  exegesis,  is  that  he 
coined  many  new  Hebrew  words,  and  thus  increased  tiie 
already  great  wealth  of  the  Hebrew  vocabulary. 

The  man  with  whom  the  florescence  of  Andalusian 
culture  began,  and  who  won  for  himself  unsurpassed 
fame  in  the  history  of  dispersed  Jewry,  is  Chasdai  Ibn 
Shaprut.  He  saw  the  light  of  day  at  Jaen  in  the  year 
915,  and  died  at  Cordova  in  990.  Being  of  wealthy  par- 
entage, nothing  was  spared  to  give  him  a  many-sided 
education  in  the  classics  and  sciences  of  that  day.  His 
acquaintance  with  Hebrew,  Arabic  and  Latin  was  all- 

GRA:\r:NrARTAX.s  axd  Lexicographers  53 

embracing,  and  his  eminence  in  the  medical  profession 
was  so  marked  that  after  the  discovery  of  a  panacea, 
he  was  made  physician  to  the  then  ruling  Caliph.  He 
also  took  an  active  part  in  the  settlement  of  diplomatic 
relations  between  Spain  and  foreign  powers,  thus  win- 
ning for  himself  the  appreciation  and  gratitude  of  his 
countrymen.  It  was  he,  through  whose  influence,  Eabbi 
Moses  ben  Enoch,  interested  in  the  restoration  of  the 
academy  of  Sora,  became  the  director  of  the  destinies  of 
Cordova's  Jews,  and  who  made  of  Andalusia  a  second 
Babylonia.  While  there  are  no  works  extant,  from 
Chasdai's  pen,  which  directly  help  to  promote  the  un- 
derstanding of  Scriptures,  it  is  asserted  that  he  could 
not  have  been  altogether  idle  in  tliis  sphere.  Some  men 
are  the  powers  behind  thronc^s.  They  are  the  sources  of 
other  people's  inspiration.  They  do  the  thinking  and 
guiding.  They  call  attention  to  noteworthy  facts,  and 
lend  to  the  undertakings  of  others,  wealth-producing 
suggestions.  Such  a  man  Chasdai  undoubtedly  was. 
We  know  him  to  have  been  in  correspondence,  not  only 
with  the  King  of  the  Chazars,  who  constituted  a  separate 
Jewish  State  in  the  East,  but  also  with  the  men  of  whom 
we  shall  now  treat,  and  to  wliom,  by  means  of  his  corre- 
spondence, he,  with  the  treasure  house  of  his  Hebrew 
erudition,  must  have  been  of  invaluable  assistance,  in 
the  prosecution  of  their  grammatical  undertakings. 

Cordova  being  the  center  of  Andalusian  Jewish,  cul- 
ture, it  naturally  succeeded  in  attracting  into  its  pre- 
cincts, unparalleled  for  inspiration,  scholars  from  every 
other  city  in  the  Spanish  Peninsula.  One  of  the  schol- 
ars, thus  attracted,  was  Men  ahem  ben  Saruk,  bom  at 
Tortosa  in  910.     He  came  to  Cordova  at  an  early  age, 

54  Jewtstt  Biblical  Commentators 

and  upon  Jiis  arrival  in  that  metropolis,  was  befriended 
not  only  by  Chasdai's  father,  but  also  by  Chasdai  him- 
self. Menahem's  forte  v/as  philology.  It  was  claimed 
for  him  that  he  understood  thoroughly  the  laws  that  are 
basic  to  the  structure  of  languages,  and  could  account, 
with  ease,  for  the  causes  that  give  rise  to  distinct  lin- 
guistic phenomena.  Encouraged  by  Chasdai,  Menahem 
undertook  the  production  of  a  dictionary  of  the  He- 
brew language,  to  which  he  gave  the  name,  "  Machbe- 
retlV^  "  the  key."  It  was  the  first  complete  work  of  its 
kind.  While  the  need  may  have  been  felt  before  his  day 
for  a  lexicon  of  Hebrew  terms  contained  in  the  Bible, 
no  one  had,  as  j^et,  ventured  upon  so  gigantic  and,  there- 
fore, formidable  an  undertaking.  The  theories  he  ad- 
vanced in  his  work  were  rather  strange  from  our  point  of 
view,  and,  therefore,  remained  by  no  means  unattacked. 
His  most  bitter  critic  was  his  contemporary,  Dunash.  He, 
too,  as  we  shall  see  later  on,  could  lay  claim  to  profound 
grammatical  knowledge,  and  to  a  pronounced  linguistic 
talent.  His  strictures  on  JMenahem's  work  were  so  se- 
vere and  thorough-going,  that  they  made  ^Fenahem  lose 
not  only  the  good  will,  but  also  the  friendship  of  Chas- 
dai, his  disillusioned  devoted  patron.  Menahem  never 
took  the  occasion  to  defend  himself  against  his  assailant, 
but  left  it  to  his  pupils  to  plead  his  cause  before  the 
tribunal  of  scholarship.  While  Menahem  does  not  evi- 
dence exact  knowledge  of  the  forms  of  the  Hebrew  lan- 
guage, he  nevertheless  recognized  that  the  language  was 
governed  by  definite  rules.  In  the  explanations  he  gave 
for  Hebrew  terms,  he  frequently  employed  the  termi- 
nology of  the  Arabic  grammarians,  although  that  termi- 
nologv,  because  of  differences  in  connotation  was  not  al- 

Grammarians  and  Lextcograptters  55 

ways  applicable.  Meiiahem  did  not  know  anything  of 
the  theory  of  tri-literal  stems,  in  the  Hebrew  language, 
and,  if  he  was  aware  of  it,  he  completely  ignored  it.  He 
believed  not  only  in  bi-lileral,  but  also  in  uni-literal 
roots.  That,  therefore,  he  should  have  arrived  at  some 
of  the  strangest  conclusions  as  to  the  meaning  of  Bib- 
lical texts,  requires  no  special  proof  for  one  acquainted 
witli  the  Hebrew  language  on  the  l)asis  of  the  tri-literal 
tlieory.  A  point  worthy  of  note,  in  connection  with 
Menahem's  theory,  is  the  principle  that  strange  words 
in  the  Bible  may  be  explained  best  in  the  light  of  their 
context.  For  this  purpose  Menahem  employs  the  struc- 
ture of  Biblical  poetry  and  rhetoric.  Whereas  much 
that  Menahem  advocated  has  been  overthrown,  he  cer- 
tainly is  entitled  to  a  prominent  phiee  among  the  liter- 
ary men  of  his  time,  on  account  of  the  impetus  he  gave 
to  the  study  of  Hebrew.  And  had  he  lived  longer  than 
960,  who  knows  but  what  he  might  have  seen  the  errox' 
of  his  theories,  and  tluis  put  Biblical  scholars  under 
greater  obligations  to  him  than  he  did. 

We  have  already  mentioned  the  name  of  Dunash,  who 
attacked  ^Menahem.  This  Dunash  is  known  by  the  name, 
Dunash  Ibn  Labrat.  He  was  born  in  Bagdad  in  the 
year  920,  and  devoted  himself,  more  particularly,  to  the 
study  of  philology,  like  Menahem,  the  object  of  his  se- 
vere criticism.  While  still  a  young  man,  he  found  his 
way  into  Spain.  He,  like  hundreds  of  others,  was  at- 
tracted to  beautiful  and  fascinating  Andalusia.  He 
knew  that  his  talents  would  thrive  in  that  healthful  at- 
mosphere of  culture,  for  which  Andalusia  was  famed. 
He  felt  that  there  his  soul  could  soar  to  dreamed-of 
heights,  amid  the  freedom  which  the  Moors  held  out  to 

56  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

every  student.  Having  studied  Arabic,  he  soon  began 
to  trace  the  resemblances  and  differences  between  the 
Arabic  hmguage  and  its  sister  tongue,  the  Hebrew.  Kot 
is  he  a  poet  of  mean  order.  Studied  in  the  light  of  a 
singer,  he  is  regarded  the  founder  of  a  new  Hebrew 
meter,  patterned  after  an  Arabic  model.  It  was  the 
"  Machbereth"  of  Menahem,  which  gave  Dunash  the 
greatest  opportunity  for  the  display  of  his  specific  talent. 
Unwelcome  as  Dunash's  criticism  of  Menahem  was,  he 
justified  it  on  tlie  ground  of  his  conviction  that  Menahem 
was  wrong,  and  tliat  it  is  the  duty  of  wise  men  to  cor- 
rect one  another,  in  s^iite  of  the  fact,  that  it  is  claimed 
that  Dunash  would  not  have  been  so  severe  in  his  criti- 
cism, had  he  not  desired  to  ingratiate  himself  with 
Chasdai,  and  thus  displace  Menahem  in  Chasdai's  af- 
fections. In  the  introduction  to  his  criticism,  Dunash 
treats  of  the  various  classes  of  letters  in  the  Hebrew 
alphabet,  the  parts  of  speech,  inflections,  various  kinrls 
of  sentences,  the  syntactical  relations  of  clauses,  the 
pecularities  of  the  Biblical  text,  synonyms,  words  writ- 
ten "  plene  '^  and  "  defective,'"  superfluous  letters,  euphe- 
mistic expressions,  the  Aramaic  and  Arabic  languages, 
and  the  thirteen  traditional  rules  of  Biblical  exegesis. 
Dunash's  main  contention  is  that  Hebrew  words  can 
be  traced  back  to  tri-literal  stems,  only  sometimes  to 
bi-literal,  but  never  to  uni-literal  stems.  As  Dunash 
had  criticised  Menahem,  so  he  also  criticised  the  Gaon 
Saadia,  in  a  work  which  has  come  down  to  us  in  frag- 
mentary form.  On  the  death  of  the  two  opponents 
Menahem  and  Dunash,  their  disciples  continued  for 
some  time  to  array  themselves  in  hostile  attitude  against 
one  another,  seeking  at  one  another's  expense,  honors 
on  the  battlefield  of  grammatical  research. 

Grammarians  and  Lexicographers  57 

To  one  of  tlic  men  taking  an  active  part  in  this  war- 
fare, attention  must  needs  be  directed.     We  refer  to 
Juda  ben  David  Chayyug,  a  grammarian  born  in  Mo- 
rocco in  950.     Having  moved  to  Cordova,  he  became  a 
pupil  of  Menahem,  and  took  up  the  cause  of  his  teacher 
against  Dunash.     Well  versed  in  Arabic  grammatical 
literature,  he  applied  the  methods  of  Arabic  gramma- 
rians,  to  the  explanation   of   Hebrew   grammar.     His 
predecessors  had  often  had  difficulty  in  accounting  for 
ditferences  between  strong  and  weak  verbs.     Chayyug 
solved  the  problem.    He  held  that  all  Hebrew  stems  are 
tri-literal,  and  that  if  one  letter  does  not  appear  in  a 
given  form,  it  may  be  regarded  as  quiescent  in  one  way 
or  other.    This  theory  he  expounded  in  a  work  entitled, 
"  A  Book  of  Verbs   Containing  Weak   Letters.''      The 
work  consists  of  three  parts.     The  first  part  treats  of 
vei'bs  in  which  the  first  radical  is  a  weak  letter ;  the  sec- 
ond part  of  verbs  in  which  the  second  radical  is  a  weak 
letter,  and  the  third  part  of  verbs  in  which  the  third 
radical  is  a  weak  letter.     He  also  wrote  a  treatise  on 
verbs  containing  double  letters,  that  is,  such  in  which 
the  second  and  tliird  radicals  are  the  same;  two  trea- 
tises on  punctuation,  expounding  the  principles  funda- 
mental to  the  Masoretic  use  of  vowels  and  consonants; 
brother  treatise,  entitled  "The  Book  of  Extracts,"  in 
which  he  discusses  verbal  stems  in  the  order  in  which 
they  occur  in  the  Bible.    The  influence  Chay5aTg  exerted 
upon  Hebrew  grammarians,  was  so  epoch-making,  that 
it  is  still  felt  to-day  by  men  devoting  themselves  to  the 
promotion  of  Hebrew  grammar,  because  the  knowledge 
they  present,  is  for  the  most  part,  based  upon  the  discov- 
eries of  Chayyug. 

58  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

One  of  the  first  men  who  felt  the  influence  of  Chay- 
yag's  grammatical  discoveries  was  Abulwalid,  born  in 
Cordova  towards  the  close  of  the  Tenth  Century.  He 
spent  a  part  of  his  youth  in  Lucena.  Whether  he  was  a 
pupil  of  Chayyug,  is  not  certain.  The  fact  remains, 
hrwever,  that  he  revered  Chayyug  deeply,  and  valued 
his  discoveries.  Althougli  Ahulwalid  was  a  physician 
and  wrote  medical  works,  he  devoted  himself  most  as- 
siduously to  the  study  of  the  Hebrew  language,  in  order 
to  unravel  by  means  of  his  knowledge  the  intent  of 
Scriptures.  His  works  were  not  written  in  Cordova. 
On  account  of  political  difficulties,  he  was  obliged  to  flee 
that  city,  and  only  after  wandering  about  for  a  long  time, 
did  he  settle  in  Saragosa,  where  he  wrote  his  works. 
His  first  treatise  was  "  The  Supplement,"  which,  as  its 
name  indicates,  supplements  the  treatise  of  Cha37'ug  on 
weak  verbs.  He  tells  us  that  he  had  road  the -Scriptures 
eight  times,  and  explains  some  odd  fifty  roots,  not  treated 
by  Chayyug.  Nor  does  he  always  agree  with  Chayyug. 
He  wrote  another  book  entitled  "  The  Awakening,'' 
whicli  is  in  the  nature  of  a  reply  to  an  anonymous  at- 
tack made  upon  him,  on  the  ground  tliat  he,  in  criticis- 
ing Chayyug,  liad  forgotten  some  of  Chayyug's  mistakes. 
In  this  reply  Abulwalid  gives  valuable  grammatical  ob- 
servations. In  the  polemics,  which  subsequently  were 
carried  on  between  himself  and  Samuel  Ibn  Nagdela, 
many  obscure  points  in  Hebrew  grammar  are  expounded. 
Abulwalid's  principal  ^vork  was  "The  Critical  Investi- 
gation," consisting  of  two  parts;  the  first  treating  of  tlie 
grammar  of  the  language,  the  second  beiag  a  vocabulary. 

The  most  celebrated  contemporary  and  rival  of  Abul- 
walid, in  the  field  of  grammatical  research,  was  Samuel 


ben  Joseph  Ibn  Nagdela,  called  also  "  Samuel  Hanagid." 
He  was  born  in  Cordova,  in  993,  and  died  at  Granada 
1055.  He,  like  all  other  great  men  of  that  day,  enjoyed  a 
thorough  linguistic  training.  Arabic  caligraphy  is  re- 
ported to  have  been  one  of  the  disciplines,  for  which  he 
sliowed  special  aptitude.  Some  of  the  letters  he  wrote  in 
his  artistic  style  fell  into  the  hands  of  the  ruling  Vizier. 
At  first,  in  consequence  of  the  admiration  of  his  letters, 
he  was  mnde  the  private  secretary  of  the  Vizier,  and 
afterwards,  upon  the  death  of  that  official,  King  Hal)us 
raised  him  to  the  office  held  by  his  patron.  Although 
exalted  to  the  position  of  a  Prince,  he  continued  his 
studies  among  the  Jews  of  Granada.  He  was  the  Nagid, 
or  chief,  the  Rabbinical  authority,  and  the  intercessor 
or  representative  of  his  co-religionists.  He  was  the 
friend  of  all  students,  who  sought  culture,  and  afforded 
them  the  means  for  their  education.  He  believed  in 
makin^T^  knowledge  as  abundant  as  are  the  waters  which 
cover  the  sea.  In  his  estimation,  only  knowledge,  and 
nothing  else,  was  power.  Of  the  writings  of  Samuel  but 
few  have  come  down  to  us.  One  of  these  is  his  introduc- 
tion to  the  Talmud.  Another  is  the  fragment  of  a  work 
entitled  "  Ben  Mishle,"  containing  aphorisms  and  max- 
ims. Another  is  a  collection  of  philosophical  medita- 
tions, known  by  the  name  of  "  Ben  Qoheleth."  His 
principal  grammatical  work  is  "  Sefer  Ha-Osher,"  no 
longer  in  existence.  In  it,  he  went  beyond  the  principles 
laid  down  by  Chayyug.  Citations  of  this  work  are  found 
in  Ibn  Ezra,  which  indicate  the  independence  of  Sam- 
uel's thought.  An  example  of  his  theories  is  the  fol- 
lowing. He  claims  that  the  verbs  like  "  Nathan  "  (to 
give)  and  "  Laqach  "  (to  take)  are  not  tri-consonantal, 

GO  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

Ijiit  bi-consonantal.  The  forms,  "  Yutan  "  (Lev.  11 :  38) 
and  "  Yuqach  "  (Isaiah  41)  :  25,)  are  not  to  be  regarded 
"  Ifophal  ^^  forms,  but  passives  of  the  "  Qal." 

These  are  the  characters  who  may  be  considered,  with 
justice,  the  links  between  the  phase  of  Biblical  interpre- 
tation, developed  in  Palestine,  and  that  other  phase, 
which  made  its  appearance  in  the  Eleventh  Century,  in 
Western  and  Southwestern  Europe.  These  men,  by  vir- 
tue of  the  grammar  and  lexicography  cultivated  l)y 
them,  in  which  they  were  influenced  by  the  example  of 
Arabic  grammarians,  were  the  natural  forerunners  of 
that  exegetical  age,  in  the  more  modern  sense  of  the 
term,  which  was  about  to  dawn.  They,  no  doubt,  felt 
that  in  order  to  be  able  to  understand  the  literature  of  a 
language,  the  structure  and  syntax  of  the  language  must 
be  thoroughly  mastered.  They  lived  themselves  into 
the  spirit  of  the  ancient  Hebrew,  and,  thus,  not  only 
put  themselves  into  the  position  of  discovering  for  them- 
selves, the  intent  of  the  Scriptures,  but  also  enabled  tlio 
critics  of  later  days  to  give  those  explanations  of  the 
Biblical  text,  for  which  they,  in  their  turn,  received  a 
prominent  place  in  the  history  of  Bible  exegesis. 


Rashi  and  the  Tossafists 

Spain  was,  beyond  all  doubt,  the  most  prolific  country 
in  the  production  of  Jewish  literature  during  the  middle 
ages.  In  fact,  as  long  as  the  Jew  was  permitted  to  reside 
within  its  borders,  he  continued  to  add  from  day  to  day 
to  the  already  extensive  storehouse  of  literary  treasures, 
the  foundation  of  which  was  laid  by  the  grammarians 
and  lexicographers  treated  in  the  previous  chapter. 
Even  during  the  days  of  Jewish  persecutions,  instituted 
by  the  church,  after  the  expulsion  of  Moors  from  the 
Spanish  Peninsula,  master-minds  followed  faithfully 
that  line  of  research  opened  by  Arabic  savants. 

But  Spain  was  not  the  only  country  where  men  of 
light  and  leading  were  spurred  on  to  take  up  the  grate- 
ful task  of  interpreting  the  relation  of  Jewish  thought 
to  the  prevailing  thought  of  the  world  of  that  time  and 
of  unfolding  (because  Jewish  thought  was  based  upon 
Biblical  thought)  the  intent  and  purpose  of  Scriptures. 
The  influence  of  Moors  extended  beyond  the  Pyrenees. 
These  mountains  separated  the  countries  only  physically 
from  one  another.  The  peoples  residing  in  the  several 
lands  on  both  sides  of  the  mountain  chain  could  not 
help  but  be  moulded  by  the  civilization  for  which  the 
neighboring  nations  stood.  The  Renaissance,  for  which 
the  never-to-be-forgotten  Moors  were  responsible,  both 
in  the  sciences  and  the  arts,  swept  everything  before  it. 
France,  nearest  neighbor  to  the  North,  could  not  resist 

64  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

the  Moorisli  revolutionary  culture,  to  the  potency  of 
which  the  people  of  other  European  domains  perforce 
succumbed.  French  Jews  were  quick  to  feel  the  magic 
touch,  which  gave  both  new  and  bright  tone  and  color 
to  the  researches  carried  on  by  their  Spanisli  co-religion- 
ists. The  French  Jews  were,  furthermore,  prepared  for 
the  dawn  of  a  new  epoch  in  the  realm  of  their  religious 
literature.  It  is  to  France,  therefore,  that  our  attention 
shall  be  directed,  more  especially  because  in  the  field  of 
Biblical  exegesis,  chronological  treatment  of  interpreters 
is  of  great  importance  in  tracing  the  development  of 
Jewish  exegesis  as  a  science.  Although  in  those  days,  the 
means  of  communication  between  peoples  living  at  great 
distances  from  one  another  were  not  those  of  railroad 
and  telegraph,  thought,  nevertheless,  rushed  like  mighty 
air  currents  from  one  section  of  the  world  to  another 
and  in  every  instance,  left  behind  perceptible  traces  of 
its  clarifying  work. 

France,  like  Spain,  was  inhabited  by  Jews  in  the  early 
centuries  of  the  Christian  Era,  despite  the  many  and 
stringent  church  laws  enacted  against  them,'  denying 
them  privileges  that  should  have  been  theirs,  as  children 
of  God.  Instances  in  point  are  the  decree  of  the  Council 
of  Macon  (581),  forbidding  the  appointment  of  Jews 
as  judges  and  tax  collectors;  the  decree  of  the  Council 
of  Paris  (614),  prohibiting  Jews  from  exercising  civic 
rights  over  Christians;  and  the  decree  of  the  Council  of 
Narbonne,  interdicting  the  singing  of  Psalms  by  Jews 
at  the  burial  of  their  own  dead.  Proscriptions  against 
Jews  continued  to  be  formulated  until  the  time  of  Char- 
lemagne, when  their  life  in  France,  fortunately,  for  a 
time,  at  least,  became  more  bearable  and  continued  thus 

Rasiii  and  the  Tossafists  65 

until  the  reign  of  Amnio,  in  the  middle  of  the  ninth 
century,  with  whose  advent  to  the  throne,  suffering  again 
became  the  badge  of  Jews.  It  was  in  the  eleventh  cen- 
tury that  the  Viscount  of  Narbonne,  happily  prevented 
in  his  district,  at  least,  the  massacre  of  Jews  by  the  Cru- 
saders, who,  without  mercy,  killed  Jews,  as  they  did  the 
Moors  of  Spain. 

Narbonne  was  one  of  the  largest,  if  not  the  largest 
community  of  France.  In  the  year  948,  Nathan  ben 
Isaac  Cohen,  one  of  the  four  teachers  sent  from  Sora 
to  collect  funds  to  prevent  the  extinction  of  that  school, 
was  brought  thither  by  his  Spanish- Arabic  captor.  His 
learning  was  soon  recognized  It  was  felt  that  he  pos- 
sessed power,  of  which  no  man  living  in  the  West  could 
justly  boast.  Until  these  days,  the  Occident  could  not 
compare  in  point  of  Jewish  scholarship  with  the  dying 
Orient.  It  was,  therefore,  that  teachers,  hailing  from 
Babylonia,  were  welcomed  as  guides  and  directors  of 
European  countries.  As  Rabbi  Moses  had  lent  dignity 
and  promise  to  Cordova  and  made  it  the  most  prominent 
Spanish  seat  of  Jewish  learning,  so  Eabbi  ISTathan  raised 
Narbonne  out  of  its  obscurity  to  heights  of  scholarship, 
which  it  perhaps  never  dreamed  of  occupying.  Among 
the  scholars  of  that  century  was  the  grammarian,  Tal- 
mudist  and  great  Rabbinical  authority,  Rabbenu  Ger- 
shon,  called  "  The  Light  of  the  Exile,"  who  hailed  from 
Metz,  had  a  school  in  Mayence  and  while  a  German  in 
spirit,  nevertheless  influenced  the  thought  of  France 
through  his  French  pupils  (who  came  to  listen  to  his  in- 
struction), and  through  his  correspondence  conducted 
with  the  French  Rabbis.  The  man  through  whom,  in 
all  probability',  he  moulded  French  Jewish  thought  most 

66  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

was  Eashi.  Although  not  his  pupil,  Rashi  enjoyed  the 
benefit  of  Gershon's  method  and  theories  by  way  of  in- 
heritance from  an  -uncle.  "  Rashi  "  is  an  abbreviation, 
consisting  of  the  initials  of  the  words,  "  Rabbi  Solomon 
ben  Isaac."  Sometimes  he  is  called  "  Parshandatha," 
literally  signifying  "  Interpreter  of  the  Law."  He  was 
born  in  1040,  in  the  city  of  Troyes,  the  same  year  that 
Rabbenu  Gershon  died,  and  it  has  been  often  remarked 
that  he  was  ushered  into  the  world  in  order  to  make 
good  the  loss  the  world  sustained  by  the  demise  of  Gor- 
shon.  It  is  erroneously  claimed  at  times,  that  Rashi 
hailed  from  Lunel.  Tradition  also  holds  that  he  was  a 
lineal  descendant  of  the  great  Talmudic  scholar,  Jochanan 
Hassandler.  And  another  legend  asserts  that  he  was  a 
native  of  Worms  in  Germany,  where — in  the  wall  of  the 
synagogue,  the  people  still  point  to  a  concavity,  produced 
by  the  pressure  of  Rashi's  mother,  who,  while  pregnant 
with  him,  pressed  against  the  wall  to  prevent  herself 
from  being  run  down  by  a  wagon,  driven  through  the 
narrow  lane,  for  the  express  purpose  of  bringing  about 
her  death.  Despite  these  several  legends,  the  fact  re- 
mains that  he  was  born  on  French  soil  in  the  city  of 
Troyes,  was  the  Rabbi  of  that  community,  onlv  visited 
Worms,  and  probably  taught  the  law  there  on  the  occa- 
sion of  his  visit,  in  the  chapel  adjoining  the  synagogue, 
called  the  Rashi  Chapel,  but  never  lived  in  Worms  per- 
manently, any  more  than  he  did  in  Prague  or  in  some 
of  the  African  and  Asiatic  Jewish  centers  to  which  his 
travels  extended.  Rashi  took  charge  of  the  spiritual 
destinies  of  the  Jews  of  his  native  city  at  the  age  of 
twenty-fivo,  upon  his  return  from  the  Jewish  seats  of 
learnini::  he  visited  in  Germanv.     He  witnessed  the  be- 

Easiit  axd  ttte  Tossafists  67 

ginning  of  the  first  Crusade  in  1095,  in  tlie  atrocities  of 
which  he  lost  some  of  his  clearest  relatives  and  best 
friends.  The  year  1105  marks  his  death.  Xever  in  all 
the  history  of  the  Jewish  people  did  scholar  live,  who 
gave  evidence  of  greater  industry  and  perseverance  than 
Rashi  displayed.  Apart  from  the  fact  that  he  mastered 
the  composite  learning  of  his  day  and  gave  the  result  of 
his  researches  to  the  world,  not  only  in  the  training 
of  numerous  disciples,  but  also  in  the  creation  of  a 
monumental  commentary  to  the  Bible,  he  wrote  a  com- 
mentary to  the  Mishnah  and  Talmud,  as  a  rule  printed 
on  the  inner  margin  of  folio  volumes,  alongside  of  the 
text,  as  is  the  case  with  his  commentary  on  the  Bible. 
Of  this  commentary  on  the  Talmud,  but  one  word  need 
be  said  in  order  to  appreciate  its  great  value.  The  Tal- 
mudic  text  is  unintelligible  without  the  light  thrown 
upon  it  by  Eashi^s  explanation.  Had  it  not  been  for 
the  services  rendered  by  Eashi  in  this  direction,  the  Tal- 
mud, in  all  probability,  would  have  remained  a  work 
closed  with  seven  seals.  It  shows  him  to  have  possessed 
not  only  marked  familiarity  with  the  Talmudic  idiom, 
often  obscure  in  the  extreme  because  of  its  terseness,  but 
also  a  thorough  acquaintance  with  the  institutions  the 
Talmud  treats  and  with  the  spirit  characterizing  its 
many  intricate  discussions.  His  production  of  a  com- 
mentary on  a  part  of  the  Midrash  and  his  composition 
of  some  of  the  prayers  and  reflections,  still  having  a 
place  in  the  ritual  of  the  Orthodox  Synagogue,  may  not 
be  relevant  in  a  treatment  ol  Kashi,  as  Bible  exegete; 
nevertheless  reference  to  these  undertakings  must  needs 
be  made,  in  order  to  indicate  the  gigantic  proportions  of 
the  literature  he  left  to  posterity. 

68  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

As  Bible  exegoto,  hi.s  influence  extended  not  simply 
beyond  tbe  borders  of  his  own  scbool,  but  beyond  the  con- 
fines of  France  into  Germany^  Spain  and  Italy,  and  in 
the  course  of  a  very  short  space  of  time,  all  over  the  en- 
tire world.  ISTor  were  his  interpretations  of  moment  only 
in  his  day.  Even  at  the  present  time,  as  much  as  in  the 
days  immediately  succeeding  his  life,  his  interpretations 
are  studied  by  all  students  of  the  Bible,  in  their  desire  to 
understand  the  spirit  of  the  various  books  of  Scriptures. 

But  because  his  interpretation  elicited  almost  world- 
wide attention  and  often  evoked  the  most  favorable  com- 
ments at  the  hands  of  his  contemporaries,  it  must  not  be 
imagined,  that  he  encountered  no  opposition.  Tn  Tbn 
Ezra,  to  whose  activity  we  shall  refer  in  a  subsequent 
chapter,  he  found  a  critic  Avorthy  of  his  steel.  Tn  a 
number  of  instances,  Tbn  Ezra  criticises  Rashi's  conclu- 
sions severely.  This  is  but  natural,  in  view  of  the  fact 
that  they  started  from  altogether  different  premises  and 
pursued  widely  varying  methods. 

Bashi's  commentary  on  the  Bible,  written  in  Eab- 
binical  Hebrew,  must  be  studied  in  the  light  of  the 
exegetical  tendencies  prevailing  in  his  day.  if  it  is 
to  be  thoroughly  understood.  Simultaneous  with  the 
flowering  of  Bible  exegesis  in  Spain,  there  arose  a  school 
of  exegesis  in  l^orthern  Africa,  whose  purpose  was  to 
establish  the  "  Peshat."  the  simple,  the  natural  explana- 
tion of  Scriptures,  in  opposition  to  the  "  Derash,"  the 
traditional,  the  derived,  sense.  On  many  sides,  it  was 
felt  that  neither  the  "  Peshat  "  nor  the  "  Derash  "  alone, 
can  unravel  the  meaning  of  Biblical  passages.  The 
happy  combination  of  both,  consisting  of  the  virtue?  of 
these  methods,  was,  for  the  proper  understanding  of 

liASllI    AND    THE    TOSSAFISTS  69 

Scriptures,  deemed  essential  by  a  uuiiiber  of  men  who 
observed  with  closest  attention,  the  rivalry  existing  be- 
tween the  exponents  of  these  several  tendencies.    Kashi 
was  one  of  the  champions  of  the  theory,  which  sought 
to  bring  about  a  compromise  between  the  "  Peshat "  and 
the  ''  Derash.''     He  interspersed  the  Aggadic  and  Mid- 
rashic  with  the  philological,  a  circumstance,  which,  in 
all  likelihood,  accounted  for  the  popularity  of  his  com- 
mentary.    One  can  readily  detect  liashi's  indebtedness 
to  the  Targumim,  the  Talmud  and  the  Masora.    Toward 
these  he  leaned  not  only  to  a  great  extent,  but  mayhap 
too  much.     Trained  as  he  was  in  Talmudic  schools,  he 
could  not  easily  emancipate  himself  from  the  Aggadic 
interpretation  as  he  should  have  done,  in  order  to  make 
his  work  stand  more  successfuly  the  scientific  test.    One 
fact  must  be  emphasized  witJi  reference  to  him,  and  this 
is,  that  he  aims  at  that  clearness  and  conciseness,  worthy 
of  emulation  by  the  men  in  his  sphere  of  life,     lie  is 
never   daunted   by  the   obscurity   of   an   expression   or 
passage.    Whenever  he  realizes  that  the  reader  may  not 
comprehend  the  meaning  of  a  phrase  with  the  aid  of  the 
explanation  given  by  him,   he  not  infrequently  gives 
French  equivalents  for  the  Hebrew  terms.     It  may  be 
stated  in  this  connection  that  the  French  vocabulary  em- 
ployed by  him  is  of  great  assistance  in  determining  the 
phonology  of  the  old  French  spoken  in  his  day.    Popular 
as  Eashi^s  commentary  was,  it  naturally  evoked  praise, 
not  only  at  the  hands  of  Jews,  but  also  at  the  hands  of 
non-Jews,  many  of  whom  have  based  numerous  inter- 
pretations given  by  them,  upon  explanations  found  in 
the  Rashi  commentary,  although  Pashi  does  not  always 
evidence  the  scientific  method.     Suffice  it  to  say,  that 

70  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

he,  like  others,  contributed  his  valuable  quota  to  Bib- 
lical exegesis.  Among  non-Jews,  who  were  affected  by 
Rashi's  method,  were  Luther  and  Nicolas  de  Lyra. 

In  order  to  be  able  to  get  a  clear  conception  of  Rashi's 
method,  a  few  illustrations  and  interpretations  given 
by  liim,  will  prove  of  great  assistance. 

In  interpreting  the  first  verse  of  Genesis,  he  remarks: 
"  Rabbi  Isaac  says,  '  The  Torah  should  not  have  com- 
menced with  this  passage,  but  with  Exodus  12 :  2,  read- 
ing, "  This  month  shall  be  to  you  the  beginning  of 
months,  because  it  is  the  first  commandment  given  to 
Israel.''  Why,  therefore,  does  the  Torah  begin  with  the 
creation  story  ? '  The  answer  to  this  question  is  given 
in  Psalm  111 :  6,  reading,  '  The  power  of  his  works,  lias 
God  told  unto  his  people,  that  he  might  give  them  the 
heritage  of  nations,'  With  this  as  a  foundation,  the 
Israelites  could  answer,  if  heathens  should  accuse  them 
of  taking  their  countries  by  force,  that  the  whole  earth 
belongs  to  God;  that  He  is  its  Creator;  that  He  has  the 
right  to  give  it  to  or  take  it  away  from  such  people  as 
he  desires."  Continuing,  Rashi  says,  "  that  the  world 
was  created  because  of  the  Law  and  because  of  Israel, 
but  if  you  desire  the  simple  explanation  of  this  expres- 
sion, then  the  text  must  be  translated,  that  at  the  crea- 
tion of  heaven  and  earth,  the  earth  was  without  form  and 

The  eighth  verse  of  Genesis  I  reads :  "  And  God  called 
the  expanse  heaven."  Rashi  liere  endeavors  to  explain 
the  word  '^  heaven  " — "  Shamayim."  He  says  that  it 
may  consist  of  the  following:  either  the  words  "  Sa  " 
and  "  Mayim,"  meaning  "  carrying  water  " ;  the  words 
"  Sham  and  Mayim,"  "  there  is  water  " ;  or  the  words 
"  Esh  "  and  "  iMayim,"  "  fire  and  water." 

Rashi  and  the  Tussafists  71 

Referring  to  (Jenesis  49 :  22,  wliicli  reads,  "■  Joseph 
is  a  fruitful  bough  by  a  spring,  the  branches  of  which 
run  over  the  wall,"  Rashi  remarks,  on  the  basis  that  the 
word  for  "  branches,"  '*  Banoth,"  originally  signified 
''  daughters,"  that  many  interpretations  may  be  given 
for  this  passage,  but  that  it  may  mean  that  the  daugh- 
ters of  Egypt  ascended  a  wall  to  behold  the  beauty  of 
Joseph,  since  "  Shur,"  the  word  for  "  wall,"  may  be 
taken  as  the  verb  connoting  "  to  look." 

Exodus  1 :  5  reads,  "  A  new  king  arose  over  Egypt," 
which  is  explained  by  Rashi  on  the  authority  of  one 
teacher,  that  the  Pharaoh  was  really  a  new  king  and  on 
the  authority  of  another,  that  only  new  regulations 
were  formulated  with  regard  to  the  Jews  and  that  the 
king  merely  acted  as  though  he  did  not  know  Joseph. 

Yerse  10  of  the  same  chapter  reads,  "  Come,  let  us 
deal  wisely,"  and  is  an  expression  always  signifying  pre- 
meditated preparation  to  carry  out  an  express  purpose. 

Chapter  21:1  of  Exodus  reads,  "  And  these  are  the 
ordinances,"  and  is  explained  as  follows :  "  In  every 
place  where  the  word  '  these  ^  is  found  standing  by  itself, 
the  matter  which  follows  is  distinct  from  that  which 
preceded ;  but  wherever  the  expression  ^  and  these '  oc- 
curs, that  which  follows,  only  supplements  that  wdiich 

Interpreting  the  first  verse  of  Psalm  2,  reading, 
"  Wherefore  do  nations  rage  and  people  imagine  a  vain 
thing,"  Rashi  remarks  that  our  Rabbis  believe  this 
Psalm  to  refer  to  King  David,  of  whom  it  is  said  when 
the  Philistines  heard  that  Israel  had  anointed  David 
to  be  king  over  them,  tlio  Pliilistines  gathered  together 
tlieir  forces  and  fell  by  his  hand. 

72  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

Interpreting  Psalm  120,  Kashi  explains  that  the  super- 
scription of  each  of  the  songs  of  the  collection,  of  whicli 
Psalm  120  is  the  first,  is  worded  "  Song  of  Degrees/' 
because  the  Levites  were  in  the  habit  of  singing  one  of 
these  songs  on  each  of  the  fifteen  steps  leading  from 
"  the  Court  of  Israel "  "  to  the  court  of  the  women ''  in 
the  Temple. 

It  is  needless  to  cite  additional  examples  to  illustrate 
the  character  of  the  interpretations,  which  Eashi  was  in 
the  habit  of  giving.  The  few  which  have  been  furnislied 
indicate  how,  in  his  work,  the  plain  and  the  derived  sense 
are  mingled  together  in  view  of  their  equal  importance 
in  his  eyes. 

Eashi^s  effort  to  harmonize  the  simple  with  the  de- 
rived sense,  did  not  cease  to  have  champions,  with  his 
death,  in  the  year  1105.  For  several  centuries  after  his 
demise,  a  class  of  men  followed  in  his  wake,  who  added 
interpolations  to  his  commentary.  These  men  are  known 
by  the  name  of  "  Tossafists  '' — "  glossators."  The  char- 
acteristic of  this  school  was  its  complete  emancipation 
from  authority,  in  consequence  of  which  it  "took  tlie 
liberty  of  correcting  and  even  changing  the  conclusions 
of  its  much  revered  pioneer.  Members  of  Eashi's  own 
family  continued  and  amended  the  work  Eashi  began. 
Among  the  Tossafists — the  glossators,  the'  man  who 
comes  first  to  our  notice  is  Joseph  ben  Simon  Kara.  He 
stated  that  the  words  of  Scriptures  are  in  every  instance 
intelligible  and  require  no  additional  explanations;  that 
the  Midrash  purposes  only  to  cultivate  or  encourage  re- 
search in  the  Scriptures;  that  the  reader  who  does  not 
know  the  natural  sense  of  Scriptures  and  inclines  toward 
the  Midrash,  may  be  likened  to  one  who  is  dragged  along 

Kashi  and  the  Tossafists  73 

by  a  raging  stream  and  is  therefore  ready  to  grasp  every 
straw  in  order  to  rescue  himself  from  destruction;  and 
that  he  who  turns  honestly  to  the  word  of  God,  will  be 
sure  to  recognize  its  true  significance  and  unity. 

While  Joseph  ben  iSimon  Kara  plays  a  prominent  part 
as  Tossahst,  greater  luminary  by  far  is  liashi's  grandson, 
Samuel  ben  Meir.  lie  was  a  native  of  Kamerupt,  a 
town  located  near  Troyes.  He  was  born  in  1085  and 
died  about  117-1,  He  is  knovv^n  by  the  name  of  "  Kash- 
bam,"  an  abbreviation,  consisting  of  the  initials  of  his 
title  and  name.  He  was  a  pupil  of  his  grandfather  and 
followed  the  Aggadic  interpretation  for  a  time,  but 
eventually  emancipated  himself  from  it  to  a  great  ex- 
tent. Kashbam's  knowledge  of  Hebrew  Grammar  was 
tliorough,  as  was  also  his  acquaintance  with  Spanish 
Hebrew  literature.  He  was  recognized  as  an  authority 
not  only  by  Jews,  but  also  by  Christians.  To  the  latter, 
he  at  times  explained  difficult  Biblical  passages.  His 
principal  work  was  his  commentary  on  the  Pentateuch. 
That  which  gave  to  it  individuality  was  its  independence 
from  the  received  interpretations  found  in  the  Talmud 
and  Midrash  and  its  return  to  the  "Peshat."  In  his 
commentary  to  Genesis,  he  states  that  the  interpretation 
of  a  Biblical  verse  must  not  transcend  the  natural  sense, 
even  though  the  Torah,  by  allusions,  may  attempt  to 
teach  the  principles  of  the  Haggadah  and  Halacha.  He 
declares  that  he  himself  had  frequently  disputed  with 
Rashi  and  that  Eashi  confessed  to  him  that  if  he  had 
had  the  time,  he,  Rashi,  would  probably  have  revised 
his  commentary  in  order  to  make  it  accord  more  thor- 
oughly with  the  natural  sense.  In  a  word,  Rashbam 
tried  to  liarmonize  his  exegesis  with  the  exegesis  of  his 

74  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

time  and  permitted  the  traditional  interpretation  to  ob- 
tain only,  provided  it  was  not  in  conflict  with  the  natu- 
ral sense.  He  did  not  hesitate  to  attack  Ibn  Ezra  any 
more  than  Ibn  Ezra  feared  to  criticise  Rashi.  Some  of 
his  interpretations,  which  are  of  interest,  are  the  follow- 
ing :  He  held  that  the  creation  story  was  put  at  the  be- 
ginning of  the  Torah  in  order  to  accentuate  and  explain 
the  Fourth  Commandment,  which  enjoins  the  keeping 
of  the  Sabbath;  that  Moses  told  the  Israelites  the  crea- 
tion story  in  order  to  make  them  feel  that  the  world 
was  not  always  as  luxuriant  with  life  as  in  later  days, 
but  that  in  earlier  times  it  was  indeed  empty  and  void. 
Eashbam  explained  the  names  of  God  in  Exodus  2 :  14, 
as  verbal  forms,  indicative  oi  God's  eternal  existence. 

With  reference  to  Ecclesiates,  he  states  that  the 
words  "  vanity  of  vanities  "  are  not  a  part  of  the  original 
text,  but,  in  all  probability,  the  superscription  of  an 
editor.  In  his  interpretation,  he  shows  a  marked  ac- 
quaintance with  French  philology  and  with  the  Latin 
language,  and  he  was  also  no  tyro  in  geography,  as  evi- 
denced by  his  comments*  on  Genesis  25 :  31,- reading, 
"  And  Israel  journeyed  and  spread  his  tents  beyond  the 
tower  of  flocks '';  on  Xumbors  21:  28,  reading,  "A  fire 
has  gone  out  of  Cheshbon  and  a  flame  from  the  city  of 
Sihon :  it  hath  consumed  Ar-Moab,  the  men  of  the 
high  places  of  the  Arnon:''  and  on  Deuteronomy  2:  3, 
which  reads,  "  Ye  have  travelled  long  enough  around 
the  mountain,  turn  yourselves  northward. '^  Eashbam 
also  wrote  commentaries  on  the  Talmud,  but  in  this  prov- 
ince, he  did  not  reach  the  height  of  his  grandfather's 

A  younger  brother  of  Samuel,  Jacob  ben  Meir,  known 

Easiii  and  the  Tossafists  75 

as  "  l^abbcnu  Tain  "'  was  also  a  Tossafist  of  marked 
scholarship  and  proiiouiiced  mental  analysis.  He  was 
born  in  1100  and  died  1171.  While  an  exegete  of  the 
Bible,  he  did  not  come  up  to  his  brother  Samuel  in  this 
particular,  but  far  surpassed  him  in  Talmudic  interpre- 
tation. Grammatical  studies  engaged  his  attention  to 
such  an  extent  that  he  enterea  the  breach  between  Mena- 
hem  ben  Saruk  and  Dunash  with  a  work  called,  "  Hakh- 
raoth ''  (decisions)  in  which  he  protected  Menahem 
against  the  onslaughts  of  his  critic. 

While  the  Tossafists  in  France  were  numerous,  but 
one  more  remains  to  be  mentioned  because  of  his  celeb- 
rity, namely,  Joseph  Bechor  Shor,  who  followed  in  the 
spirit  of  Rashbam  in  the  creation  of  his  Biblical  com- 
mentary. It  is  only  recently  that  the  works  of  this  man 
have  been  brought  to  light. 

Whereas  the  Biblical  interpretations  of  Eashi  and  of 
the  school  of  Tossafists  became  known  throughout  the 
then  existing  Jewry,  on  account  of  the  power  of  dissemi- 
nation, which  characterizes  all  thought,  the  persecutions 
to  which  French  Jews  were  unfortunately  subjected  cer- 
tainly helped  very  materially  in  giving  this  new  school 
its  prestige.  As  Jews  were  driven  out  of  France  and 
their  scholars  felt  obliged  to  settle  in  other  communities, 
new  centers  for  the  spread  of  the  teachings  of  the  Tossa- 
fists were  called  into  life. 

With  this  digression  from  the  Spanish  Jews,  we  return 
to  them  once  more  to  take  up  the  work  they  did  in  the 
field  of  Biblical  exegesis,  as  based  upon  the  valuable  re- 
searches, made  by  those  forerunners,  the  grammarians 
and  lexicographers  living  at  the  time  of  Moorish  sway. 


Ibx  Ezra  and  the  Kimchis. 

If  there  was  ever  time^  since  the  clays  in  which  the 
Psalms  were  written,  that  the  muses  bestowed  special 
favor  upon  the  Jewish  people,  it  was  in  the  age  marking 
the  Spanish  civilization  with  Moorish  culture.  Poetry 
became  the  pleasant  and  fascinating  occupation  of  all 
men  in  Israel,  who  were  prompted  to  explain  Israel's 
place  among  the  nations,  its  literary  productions,  and 
its  religious  ideals.  Even  those,  who  evidenced  striking 
mental  analysis,  and  in  whom  the  imagination  was  not 
usually  known  to  transcend  its  natural  bounds,  were 
occasionally  given  to  the  making  of  verse,  as  a  happy 
pastime.  While  much  of  the  poetry  of  the  Spanish  Jews 
was  secular  in  character,  the  bulk  of  it,  as  may  be  readily 
supposed  from  the  distinctive  genius  of  the  Jew,  his 
longings,  and  his  ideals,  was  decidedly  religious.  The 
ritual  in  use  in  the  modern  Synagogue  can  trace  a  great 
portion  of  its  component  material  to  these  times  when 
Judah  took  up,  once  more,  its  long  silent  harps,  and  at- 
tuned them  to  inspiring  lay^.  It  appeared,  indeed,  as 
if  history  were  to  repeat  itself,  and  the  golden  age  of 
sacred  literature,  which  lay  between  the  end  of  the  Baby- 
lonian Exile  and  the  period  of  the  l\raccabees,  were  to 
dawn  once  more. 

And  yet.  general  as  the  writing  of  verse  was  among 
the  Spanish  Jews,  they  at  no  time  ceased  developing  the 
science  of  Biblical  criticism  on  the  basis  of  those  gram- 

80  '  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

matical  and  lexicographical  researches  carried  on  by  the 
scholars  of  the  Tenth  Centnry.  In  fact,  Spanish  Jews 
were  jealous  of  the  place,  which  they  had  won  for  them- 
selves as  interpreters  of  the  Scriptures  among,  the  Jewry 
of  that  day. 

Although  every  now  and  then  the  activities  of  a 
scholar  in  another  country  more  than  justified  the  in- 
ference that  Spain  would  be  compelled  to  cede  the  honor 
of  being  the  leader  in  Jewish  Biblical  criticism,  Spanish 
Jews  were  ever  ready  to  assert,  by  some  new  commen- 
tary, the  claim  they  continued  to  have  to  the  position 
they  had  won  for  themselves  through  years  of  faithful 
application  and  hard  work. 

The  man  who,  in  the  Twelfth  Century,  made  good 
the  leadership  of  Spanish  Jews  in  the  realm  of  Jewish 
science,  was  Abraham  ben  Meir  Ibn  Ezra.  He  towers 
head  and  shoulders  above  the  great  celebrities  of  his 
time  in  that  pursuit  to  which  he  consecrated  his  God- 
given  talents. 

The  Ibn  Ezra  family  was  one  of  the  best  known  and 
most  popular  families  in  Spain.  A  number  of  its  mem- 
bers had  ascended  to  the  enviable  rungs  of  fame.  To  say 
that  one  was  an  Tbn  Ezra  was  equivalent,  in  those  days, 
to  a  certification  of  broadness,  intellectuality^  and  exten- 
sive scholarship.  In  the  province  of  poetry  more  es- 
pecially, the  Tbn  Ezras  had  rendered  great  service.  All  of 
them  were  gifted  with  a  poetic  genius.  Thev  all  seemed 
to  be  favored  by  the  muses,  and  could  attune  their  lyres 
to  lofty  themes.  Whether  Abraham  Ibn  Ezra  belonged 
to  this  celebrated  family  cannot  be  stated  with  certainty. 
It  is  held  that  he  undoubtedlv  was  a  member  of  one  of 
the  famil/s  more  distant  branches. 

Ibn  Ezra  and  the  Kimchis  81 

Abraham  Ibn  Ezra  was  born  in  Toledo,  1092,  and 
died  in  Calahorra  on  the  border  of  Navarre  in  Aragon, 
in  1167.  But  little  is  loiown  of  his  early  life.  As  soon 
as  he  knew  how  to  value  the  education  which  comes  from 
broad  cultural  surroundings,  he  migrated  to  Cordova,  the 
rendezvous  of  Jewish  thinkers  and  scholars.  He  is  re- 
ported to  have  been  married  to  an  only  daughter  of 
Jehudah  Halevi,  the  most  celebrated  Jewish  singer  and 
one  of  the  leading  philosophers  of  those  times.  The  mar- 
riage is  said  to  have  been  brought  about  in  this  wise. 
Jehudah  Halevi  was  eking  out  a  precarious  existence 
by  virtue  of  his  devotion  to  scholarship.  His  poverty 
militated  against  his  daughter's  chances  of  marriage. 
Because  of  this  fact,  Jehudah's  wife  reprimanded  him. 
He  therefore  made  a  vow,  that  lie  would  give  his  daugh- 
ter to  the  first  man  who  would  chance  to  enter  his  home 
on  the  following  day.  The  first  person  to  pass  over  the 
threshold  of  Jehudah's  home  on  the  morrow,  was  Ibn 
Ezra,  no  better,  but  probably  worse  conditioned  than 
Jehudah  Halevi's  family.  It  was  thus  that  Ibn  Ezra 
won  a  life's  companion,  who  shared  with  him  more  of 
sorrows  than  she  did  of  joys,  and  he  thus  became  re- 
lated to  one  of  the  greatest  celebrities  of  the  Spanish 

Ibn  Ezra  never,  in  his  entire  life,  enjoyed  those  bless- 
ings calculated  to  insure  his  comfort  and  ease.  In  him 
the  lot  of  most  literary  men  met  with  stern  and  almost 
unbearable  realization.  He  failed  in  everything  but 
scholarly  efforts.  In  his  epigrammatic  style,  he  com- 
mented upon  his  never  disappearing  misfortune  and  his 
ever  continuing  inability  to  amass  wealth,  by  saying,  "  If 
I  were  to  engage  in  shroud  making,  men  would  cease 

82  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

dying;  or  if  I  made  candles,  the  sun  would  never  set 
until  the  hour  of  my  death."  Though  apparently 
doomed  to  lead  a  poverty-stricken  life,  he  did  not  desist 
from  trying  to  improve  his  condition.  It  is  perhaps  due 
to  his  ^'^ire  to  better  his  lot  that  he  spent  almost  all 
his  years  in  travel,  endeavoring,  in  all  probability,  to  find 
some  place  where  fortune  would  deal  more  kindly  with 
him  and  his. 

In  his  wanderings  he  visited  Asia  and  Africa,  and  in 
Europe  went  to  Eome,  Lucca,  Mantua,  and  later  to 
Narbonne,  Beziers,  Ehodes  and  London.  He  won 
friends  at  every  one  of  these  places,  for  his  personality 
was  most  interesting.  Apart  from  the  fact  that  he  was 
a  fascinating  conversationalist,  on  account  of  his  ex- 
tensive travel,  intelligence  and  epigrams,  display  of  wit, 
and  use  of  thrusting  satire  (all  characteristics  to  be 
encountered  also  in  his  works)  he  possessed  so  extensive 
a  versatility  of  knowledge,  that  he  was  able  to  adapt 
himself  to  all  persons  and  conditions,  with  which  fortune 
brought  him  in  contact.  Ibn  Ezra  was  poet,  philoso- 
pher and  mathematician,  in  addition  to  being  a  master 
in  the  field  of  Biblical  exegesis.  It  was,  therefore,  but 
natural,  that  he  could  never  have  been  at  a  loss  for  con- 
versational material,  with  which  to  make  himself  agree- 
able to  his  acquaintances.  In  fact,  it  may  be  said  of  him 
that  he  was  a  product  of  the  culture  of  his  age.  Me  was 
a  creature  of  circumstances  who  would  have  been  obliged 
to  become  what  he  was  even  in  spite  of  himself.  All  the 
men  these  times  produced  were  many-sided.  No  one 
could  live  for  any  length  of  time  within  the  borders  of 
Spain,  without  becoming  moulded,  to  a  great  extent,  by 
the  numerous  factors  which  entered  into  the  civilization 

Ibn  Ezra  and  the  Kimchis  83 

of  the  Moors.  Specialists,  whose  knowledge  is  restricted 
to  one  specific  province  of  thonijht,  to  the  exclusion  of 
information  in  all  other  branches  of  learning,  have  no 
place  in  the  economy  of  the  Spanish  people.  The  Span- 
ish specialist  was  always  particnlarly  strong  in  his  own 
field,  bnt.  in  addition,  he  mastered  snfificient  of  other 
branches  of  learning  to  make  his  opinion  on  almost 
every  other  discipline  of  consequence. 

Grammarian  as  every  Biblical  exegete  had  to  be,  in 
order  to  be  able  to  interpret  the  sense  of  Scriptures, 
Ibn  Ezra  must  needs  claim  our  attention  first  and  fore- 
most, as  a  contributor  to  grammatical  research.  He  not 
only  translated  Ben  Chayyng's  grammatical  works,  but 
he  himself  also  -^Tote  a  work  entitled  "  ^leasnayim  " — 
"  The  Scale  " — treating  of  vowels,  verbal  forms,  stems, 
conjugations,  and  the  exposition  of  Hebrew  grammatical 
terminolog}'.  In  the  introduction  to  his  work  he  speaks 
of  the  sixteen  Hebrew  grammarians,  beginning  with 
Saadia,  and  ending  with  Levi  ibn  Tibbon.  Another  gram- 
matical work  of  his  is  "Zachoth,"  dealing  with  the 
purity  of  the  Hebrew  language ;  and  the  third  is  his 
"  Yessod  Hadiqduq  "  discussing  the  whole  province  of 
the  Hebrew  language.  Other  works  of  minor  importance 
along  this  line,  are  the  "Sapha  Berura " — the  pure 
speech — and  the  "  Sefer  Hamispar  ^^  treating  of 

In  his  Bible  exegesis,  he  was  thoroughly  original, 
bringing  the  light  of  his  many-sided  knowledge  to  bear 
upon  the  interpretation  of  Biblical  passages.  The  pur- 
pose of  his  exegesis  is  understood  best  from  the  intro- 
duction to  his  commentary  on  the  Pentateuch.  He  there 
speaks  of  four  existing  methods,  employed  in  the  inter- 

84  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

pretation  of  Scriptures,  each  one  of  which  he  criticises 
in  turn.  The  first  is  that  of  the  Gaonim,  who,  in  his  opin- 
ion, employed  too  much  foreign  matter  in  their  explana- 
tion. The  second  is  the  method  of  the  Karaites,  whose 
ignoring  of  tradition  he  condemns.  The  third  is  that 
of  the  Allegorists,  of  which  lie  disapproves,  because  it 
makes  claims  for  the  concealed  meaning  of  Scriptures, 
in  the  face  of  its  oft-evident  significance.  And  the 
fourth  is  that  of  the  Derash,  against  which  he  warns 
readers,  because  it  prefers  the  derived,  or  Aggadic  sense 
to  the  natural  meaning.  In  opposition  to  these  methods, 
Ibn  Ezra  may  be  regarded  the  exponent  of  the  Peshat, 
the  natural  sense.  As  such  he  differs  from  Rashi,  to  a 
great  extent,  as  Eashi,  in  addition  to  advocating  the 
Peshat,  the  natural  sense,  frequently  adopts  the  Derash, 
the  derived  sense,  in  view  of  Rashi's  belief  that  a  Scrip- 
tural verse  may  have  more  than  one  meaning.  Never  did 
critic  interpret  Scriptures,  who  made  a  stronger  plea 
for,  and  emphasized,  more  forcibly,  the  integrity  of  the 
text.  The  Masora  w^as  to  him  an  infallible  guide.  Its 
conclusions  were  by  him  considered  thoroughly  authori- 
tative. Ibn  Ezra  pleads  with  a  conviction,  the  strength 
of  which  is  greatly  increased  by  his  peculiar  style.  He 
is  terse  and  concise.  He  indulges  in  no  superfluous  lan- 
guage. He  employs  biting  sarcasm,  and  frequently  in- 
dulges in  witticism.  When  he  criticises  an  opponent, 
he  is  unmerciful  in  the  analysis  of  the  opponent's 
thought.  In  fact,  there  is  nothing  that  he  enjoyed  more 
than  to  test  the  conclusions  arrived  at  by  other  critics. 
Although  an  advocate  of  the  Peshat,  and  being  seriously 
opposed  to  the  four  existing  methods  of  interpretation 
on  grounds  already  specified,  Ibn  Ezra  must  not  be  con- 

Ibx  Ezra  and  the  Kimciiis  85 

sidered  as  being  tlioroughly  consistent.  At  times  he  de- 
fended the  very  methods  against  which  he  warns  Bib- 
lical students.  Upon  a  superficial  examination,  he  ap- 
pears not  to  know  his  own  mind.  Nor  can  his  works 
lay  claim  to  symmetry  and  completeness.  He  frequently 
leaps  from  theme  to  theme,  a  phenomenon  to  be  ex- 
plained, no  doubt,  by  the  nervous  and  restless  life  he 
was  obliged  to  lead,  in  consequence  of  his  almost  unin- 
terrupted migration  from  country  to  country.  The  con- 
servatism of  his  critcism  may  be  recognized  by  his  un- 
willingness to  concede  that  euphemistic  changes  were 
made  in  the  Biblical  text.  Whatever  Ibn  Ezra  does  not 
understand,  he  considers  one  of  the  secrets  beyond  the 
comprehension  of  men.  To  elucidate  these,  he  considers 
useless  effort.  In  this  connection  it  may  not  be  amiss  to 
state  that  he  was  an  astrologist,  and  firmly  believed  that 
the  stars,  to  a  great  extent,  determine  the  destiny  of  man. 
It  was  on  this  score  that  he  reconciled  himself  completely 
to  that  extreme  poverty  from  which  he  found  it  impos- 
oible  to  extricate  himself  during  his  entire  life. 

His  exegetical  works  are  a  commentary  on  the  Penta- 
teuch, (usually  printed  on  the  outer  margin  of  the  text 
in  the  large  Hebrew  editions  of  the  Bible),  on  Isaiah,  the 
twelve  Minor  Prophets,  Psalms,  Job,  the  five  Scrolls, 
Daniel,  Ezra,  and  Nehemiah.  There  are  two  recensions 
of  his  commentary  on  Daniel;  two  also  of  his  commen- 
tary on  the  Song  of  Songs  and  Esther,  and  also  two  on 
Proverbs.  Works  of  his  which  incidentally  contain  ex- 
egetical matter  are  his  "  Yesod  Mora,"  explaining  the 
reason  for  Biblical  commandments,  the  "  Iggereth  Shab- 
bath,"  treating  of  the  Sabbath  and  "  Sefer  Hashem," 
discussing  the  name  of  God. 

86  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

On  account  of  the  lack  ol"  consistency  displayed  by 
Ibn  Ezra  in  his  commentaries,  a  number  of  super-com- 
mentaries came  into  existence,  the  purpose  of  which  was 
to  make  his  explanations  more  intelligible  to  the  reader. 
The  authors  of  these  super-commentaries  lived  in  the 
Fourteenth  Century,  and  some  of  them  as  late  as  the 
Nineteenth.  In  order  to  get  an  idea  of  some  of  his  con- 
clusions, let  us  take  the  following  instances. 

As  to  angels,  he  says,  that  the  angel  between  God  and 
man  is  the  human  intellect.  With  regard  to  the  story 
of  the  Garden  of  Eden,  he  rejects  all  allegorical  inter- 
pretation, and  adheres  to  the  words  of  Scriptures,  add- 
ing, of  course,  that  it  contains  a  concealed  meaning. 
Such  is  his  attitude  also  toward  the  accounts  of  the 
Tower  of  Babel,  of  the  Prophet  Bileam,  of  the  visit  made 
by  the  angels  to  Abraham,  and  of  other  similar  events 
in  Biblical  history.  Ibn  Ezra  questioned  the  claim  that 
the  whole  of  the  Pentateuch  could  have  been  written  by 
Moses.  Thus,  for  example,  he  states  that  Genesis  36 :  31 
and  following,  the  fragment  treating  of  the  kings  who 
reigned  over  Edom  before  kings  ruled  over  Israel,  could 
not  be  of  Mosaic  authorship.  Deut.  chapter  34,  he  as- 
cribes to  Joshua.  Ibn  Ezra  was  also  the  first  to  question 
the  unity  of  the  Book  of  Isaiah.  He  believed  that  the 
last  part  of  the  book,  bearing  the  name  of  that  prophet, 
was  the  product  of  a  seer  living  in  the  years  of  the  Baby- 
lonian captivity.  He  recognized  the  existence  of  glosses 
in  the  Scriptures,  as  for  example,  such  expressions, 
"And  the  Canaanite  was  then  in  the  land";  (Gen. 
12 :  6)  ;  "  On  the  mount  of  the  Lord  it  shall  be  seen  " ', 
(Gen.  22 :  14)  ;  "  These  are  the  words  which  Moses  spoke 
unto  all  Israel,  on  this  side  of  the  Jordan,"  (Deut.  1:1); 
"  Behold,  his  bed  was  a  bed  of  iron,"  (Deut.  3  :  11.) 

Ibn  Ezra  and  the  Kimchis  87 

His  introduction  to  the  Book  of  Psalms  is  of  great 
interest,  and  a  part  of  it  is  given  here,  in  order  to  con- 
vey an  idea  of  Ibn  Ezra's  theories.  Says  Ibn  Ezra :  "  In 
this  Book  of  Psahns  are  compositions,  at  the  head  of 
which  are  given  the  names  of  the  composers.  In  the 
case  of  a  number,  as  for  example.  Psalms  1,  91,  etc., 
such  names  are  missing.  Tiie  critics  differ  with  regard 
to  this  Book  of  Psalms.  Some  claim  that  the  whole  of  it 
was  written  by  David.  If  we  read  at  the  top  of  a  Psalm, 
both  '  Jeduthun '  and  '  David,'  it  is  to  be  inferred 
that  the  Psalm  is  the  composition  of  David,  and  was 
handed  to  Jeduthun,  a  director,  for  musical  rendering. 
Psalm  72  is  a  prophecy  of  David,  with  regard  to  his  son 
Solomon,  and  Psalm  90,  the  Prayer  of  Moses,  was  com- 
posed by  David  and  delivered  by  him  to  Moses'  descend- 
ents.  The  same  theory  liolds  good  with  regard  to  Psalms 
in  the  superscription  of  which  we  find  the  names  "Assaf," 
'  The  Sons  of  Korah,'  etc.  Other  critics  claim  that  this 
book  contains  no  predictions  of  the  future,  and  that  it 
was,  therefore,  put  by  the  ancients,  together  with  Job 
and  the  Scrolls.  Proofs  of  this  are  the  terms  '^  Song ' 
and  ^  Prayer.'  They  held  that  Psalm  137  w^as  written 
by  a  poet  living  in  Babylonia,  and  that  the  same  is  the 
case  with  the  Psalms  headed  ^  The  Sons  of  Korah.' 
Psalm  119  is  Babylonian. 

Ibn  Ezra  also  holds  that  every  Psalm,  at  the  head  of 
which  we  find  the  name  "  David  "  is  composed  either  by 
David  or  by  some  poet  who  dedicated  his  composition  to 
David.  He  claims  that  the  Prayer  of  Moses  was  writ- 
ten by  Moses,  Psalms  of  Assaf  by  Assaf,  and  the  Psalms 
of  the  Sons  of  Korah,  by  the  Sons  of  Korah.  The 
Psalm    without    any    name    in    the    superscription,    he 

88  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

claims,  may  be  by  other  singers  than  David,  although 
some  are  by  David.  He  believes  the  Book  of  Canticles 
to  be  an  allegorical  representation  of  the  history  of  Is- 
rael from  the  days  of  the  Patriarch  Abraham,  to  the 
Messianic  times,  and  that  it  emphasizes  naught  but  the 
love  of  God  for  Israel.  Daniel's  vision  is  explained  as 
follows,  in  his  commentary  to  Deut.  7 :  4-8.  "  The  first 
animal  resembling  a  lion  is  Nebuchadnezzer,  and  the 
eagle's  wings  torn  out  of  him  are  his  descendants  Ewil 
Merodach  and  Belshazzar.  The  second  animal  is  the 
Persian  Kingdom,  which  destroyed  the  Chaldean.  The 
third  animal  is  the  Greek  Kingdom,  which  began  with 
the  reign  of  Alexander  the  Great,  and  extended  through 
the  Eoman  rule.  Its  four  wings  are  the  four  kings 
among  whom  the  Kingdom  of  Alexander  was  divided 
after  his  death.  The  fourth  animal  is  the  Kingdom  of 
the  Arabs.  Its  ten  horns  are  the  ten  districts  where 
Arabs  resided.  The  little  horn  lies  in  the  distant  future 
and  will  make  its  appearance  before  the  advent  of  the 

From  this  presentation  of  Ibn  Ezra's  thought,  we  turn 
once  more  to  France,  where,  in  the  City  of  Xarbonne,  the 
French  center  of  Jewish  activity,  an  illustrious  family 
attained  to  prominence  for  its  grammatical  and  exegeti- 
cal  researches.  The  family  is  known  by  the  name  "  Kim- 
chi,"  the  head  of  that  family  being  Joseph  ben  Isaac 
Kimchi,  surnamed  "  Eikam,"  (a  word  consisting  of  the 
initials  of  his  fuller  name),  who  hailed  from  the  south 
of  France.  He  was  greatly  influenced  by  the  thought 
of  Ibn  Ezra,  who,  in  his  travels,  visited  at  the  Kimchi 
home.  Like  Ibn  Ezra,  he  uses  the  word  "  Shamar  " — 
to  keep — as  the  paradigm  of  the  Hebrew  verb.     Ibn 

Ibn  Ezra  and  the  Kimchis  89 

Ezra,  in  turn,  quotes  him  also  in  his  commentaries. 
While  Joseph  ben  Isaac  Ivimchi  was  no  doubt  the  means 
of  transplanting  Jewish  Arabic  philosophy  into  Chris- 
tian Europe,  he  did  not  contribute  anything  new  or  es- 
pecially valuable  to  Biblical  exegesis,  although  he  wrote 
a  commentary  on  the  Pentateuch,  the  Prophets,  and 
some  of  the  sacred  writings.  He  indulged,  however,  in 
the  writing  of  verses,  the  translation  of  Bachya  Ibn  Pa- 
kuda's  "  Duties  of  the  Heart "  from  Arabic  into  He- 
brew, and  turned  GabiroFs  '' Mibchar  Ha-Peninim  " — 
into  metrical  form. 

The  winning  of  spurs  on  the  part  of  the  Kimchi  fam- 
ily, in  the  field  of  Biblical  exegesis,  was  left  to  the 
youngest  son  of  Joseph  ben  Isaac,  known  by  the  name 
of  David,  and  surnamed  "  Eedak,"  also  an  abbreviation 
of  his  fuller  name.  He  was  born  in  Narbonne  in  1160, 
and  died  in  1235.  Because  his  father  had  passed  away 
while  David  was  a  mere  child,  his  rearing  was  left  to 
Moses,  an  elder  brother.  His  main  work  consisted  of 
an  investigation  into  the  Hebrew  language,  known  as 
"  Michlol,"  comprising  two  parts,  the  first  of  which 
treats  of  the  grammar  of  the  Hebrew  language,  while 
the  second  part,  called  "  Book  of  Eoots  "  is  a  vocabulary. 
Another  work  of  his  is  known  as  "  Et  Sofer,"  literally, 
"  The  Pen  of  the  Scribe,"  which  discusses  the  Masora 
and  the  Hebrew  accents.  The  commentaries,  which  Re- 
dak  left  to  posterity  are  on  the  earlier  and  later  Proph- 
ets, the  Psalms,  the  Book  of  Chronicles,  and  only  on  a 
part  of  Genesis.  In  the  Proverbs  and  Psalms,  he  at- 
tacks the  Messianic  interpretations  given  by  the  Church 
to  certain  verses.  His  style  is  marked  by  clearness,  com- 
pleteness, and  conciseness.     In  his  interpretation  and 

90  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

definition,  he  built  on  the  discoveries  of  his  predecessors, 
and  thus  helped  to  give  wider  circulation  to  the  conclu- 
sions of  the  earlier  grammarians  and  exegetes,  as  much 
as  he  did  to  the  grammatical  system  of  his  father,  Jo- 
seph ben  Isaac.  To  indicate  the  esteem  in  which  Ee- 
dak  was  held,  we  need  but  refer  to  the  application  made 
to  him  of  the  verse  in  the  Chapters  of  the  Fathers,  read- 
ing, "  Where  there  is  no  Kemach  (literally  meaning- 
meal,  or  flour)  there  is  no  knowledge  of  the  law  ^'  which 
was  twisted  in  spelling  so  as  to  admit  of  the  rendering, 
"  Where  there  is  no  Kimchi,  there  is  no  law/^  Eedak  is 
the  Ibn  Ezra  of  France,  in  that  he  believed  that  the 
sense  of  Scriptures  must  be  based  upon  an  examination 
of  grammatical  forms  and  the  emphasis  of  the  natural 

The  consideration  of  the  following  passage  found  in 
his  commentary  of  the  Prophets,  conveys  a  clear  con- 
ception of  his  method.  He  remarks,  "  I  desire  to  inter- 
pret verses  of  Scriptures  according  to  their  needs,  and 
shall  explain  words  where  explanation  is  necessary.  I 
shall  interpret  the  text  with  reference  to  the  Qere  and 
the  Kethibh,  so  far  as  I  am  able.  It  appears  that  these 
differences  in  the  reading  and  the  wTiting  of  tlie  text 
came  into  existence  in  this  wise:  The  books  were  lost 
during  the  Exile,  the  experts  died,  and  the  men  of  the 
Great  Synagogue,  who  endeavored  to  restore  the  Torah 
to  its  former  dignity,  discovering  differences  in  the 
reading,  always  decided  on  the  basis  of  the  majority  of 
existing  testimonies.  Where  these  men  of  the  Great 
Synagogue  were  in  doubt,  they  wrote  the  word  into  the 
text,  but  did  not  point  it,  placing  the  proper  pointing 
into  the  margin ;  or  wrote  only  into  the  margin  but  not 

Ibn  Ezra  and  the  Kimchis  91 

into  the  text;  or,  again,  wrote  one  reading  into  the  text 
and  the  variant  into  the  margin." 

The  two  men  Ibn  Ezra  and  Kimclii,  working  along 
similar  lines  and  according  to  similar  methods,  were 
not  only  the  links  that  bound  together  the  Moorish  and 
Christian  civilizations  during  the  Eleventh  and  Twelfth 
Centuries,  but  they  also  contributed,  each  in  his  own 
country,  to  the  promotion  of  that  science,  which  the  Jew 
considered  of  prime  importance,  in  the  proper  under- 
standing of  that  work  or  that  literature,  on  which  the 
faiths  of  Christian  Europe  were  founded.  The  products 
of  their  pen,  like  the  commentary  of  Rashi  upon  the 
Bible,  and  probably  more  than  the  commentary  of 
Eashi,  are  the  sources  from  which  the  scholars  of  all 
ages  succeeding  theirs,  drew  the  inspiration  which  gave 
their  conclusions  the  stamp  of  truth. 


Maimonides  and  Nachmaxides 

Self-defense  and  adjustment  have  been  the  alter- 
nating and  oft  coincidental  tasks  of  religion,  ever  since 
religion  first  attempted  to  explain  the  mystery  of  the 
universe  and  life.  Skeptics  and  doubters,  who  ques- 
tioned the  value  of  its  services  in  the  construction  of 
civilization,  had  to  be  answered,  not  because  their 
charges  were  true,  but  because  of  the  fear  that  many 
persons,  easily  deluded,  might  have  their  faith  in  re- 
ligion shaken.  The  discovery  of  new  truths  on  the 
part  of  constantly  thinking  humanity,  had  to  be  reck- 
oned with,  not  because  there  was  a  real  conflict  between 
science  and  religion,  but  because  religion  felt  that  it 
had  to  keep  pace  with  the  evolution  of  knowledge.  Had 
such  not  been  the  conduct  of  religion  in  the  many  pe- 
riods of  the  world's  history,  religion  would  not  be  vocal 
with  inspiring  messages  to  society,  in  these  days  of 
ours,  when  every  factor  of  civilization  is  tested  by  the 
law  of  evolution. 

Among  the  faiths  which  have  come  into  and  gone  out 
of  existence,  none  has  been  compelled  to  defend  and  re- 
adjust itself  as  frequently  as  did  the  faith  of  Israel. 
"Tribe  of  the  wandering  foot,"  as  Israel  has  been,  it 
came  in  contact  with  the  earlier  forms  of  culture  which 
the  Orient  sponsored,  and  with  the  later  phases  of  spec- 
ulation expounded  by  Occidental  peoples.  Thus  it  hap- 
pens that  from  the  moment  Israel  became  dispersed,  it 

96  Jewish  Biblical  Commentatoks 

turned  religious  philosopher,  at  one  time  asserting  tlie 
superiority  of  its  theory  of  life,  at  another  demon- 
strating the  harmony  between  it  and  other  systems  of 
thought,  and  frequently  availing  itself  of  the  light  fur- 
nished by  philosophies  of  a  newer  day. 

During  the  sojourn  of  the  Jew  in  Spain,  radiant  with 
a  Moorish  cultural  complexion,  the  Jew  felt  called  upon 
to  devote  himself  to  the  task  of  subjecting  his  belief  to 
careful  analysis.  Whereas  his  imagination  indulged  in 
poetic  flights,  his  reason  delved  into  profoundcst 
thought.  He  could  not  escape  the  latter.  Two  schools 
of  philosophy  attracted  marked  attention,  and  won  for 
themselves  numerous  eager  students,  and  indefatigable 
expounders.  The  philosophy  of  Aristotle  had  met  with 
revival,  and  the  thought  of  the  Motekallemin,  an  Arabic 
sect,  was  being  proclaimed.  Spain  and  all  its  people,  ir- 
respective of  their  religious  traditions,  promised  to  be 
Greecized  on  the  one  hand,  by  the  theory  of  the  eternity 
of  the  Universe  and  Mohammedanized  on  the  other  by 
the  theory  of  God's  existence,  incorporeality  and  unity, 
together  with  the  '^  Creatio  ex  Nihilo ''  doctrine.  The 
Jew  could  not  and  would  not  ignore  these  tw^o  systems. 
He  felt  called  upon  to  search  them  carefully,  contrast 
their  teachings  with  his,  and  explain  whether  or  not  his 
religion,  originally  built  on  Scriptural  doctrine,  was,  or 
was  not  found  wanting,  when  weighed  in  the  then  ap- 
plied philosophical  balance. 

No  man  of  average  attainments  could  undertake  this 
examination.  A  man  fitted  for  the  work  by  natural  en- 
dowments and  acquired  erudition,  the  Spanish  Jews  pos- 
sessed in  Moses  Maimonides.  Tf  he  had  not  been  a 
master  in  the  written  and   oral   laws,  in  Biblical   and 

Mai.momdks  and  Xachmanides  97 

Rabbinical  disciplines,  he  could  never  have  proved  him- 
self equal  to  the  emeriieiicy.  Profound  pliilosopher  that 
he  was,  it  is  not  particularly  as  such  that  he  is  of  interest 
at  present,  but.  rather  as  Biblical  exegete,  who,  in  the 
writings  he  has  left  to  posterity,  has  handed  down  many 
valuable  philosophical  conclusions,  illuminating  the 
sense  of  Scriptures.  Maimonides'  fuller  name  was 
Moses  ben  ^laimon.  In  Arabic  literature  he  is  known 
as  "  Abu  Imran  Musa  ben  Maimun  Ibn  Abd  Allah." 
Among  Jews  he  is  called  "Rambam,"  a  term  consisting 
of  the  initials  of  his  name.  Rabbi  Moses  ben  Maimon. 

He  saw  the  light  of  day  first  at  Cordova,  in  1135, 
and  died  at  Cairo,  Egypt,  1204.  The  years,  lying  be- 
tween his  birth  and  death,  were  characterized  by  a  ca- 
reer which  has  many  a  touch  of  the  romantic.  The 
foundation  of  his  scholarship  was  laid  by  his  father  who 
was  himself  a  man  of  profound  erudition,  and  by  some 
of  the  most  celebrated  Arabic  lights  of  his  country  and 
time.  When  he  was  thirteen  yeas  of  age,  Cordova  was 
conquered  by  the  Almohades,  who  gave  the  Jews  the 
choice  between  the  embrace  of  Islam  and  exile.  The 
^laimon  family  wandered  about  from  place  to  place  for 
many  years,  until  in  1160,  they  took  up  their  residence 
in  Fez,  hoping  not  to  have  their  religion  discovered. 
However,  owing  to  his  ever-increasing  prominence,  and 
the  consequent  discovery  of  his  faith,  Maimonides  would 
have  been  executed,  if  it  had  not  been  for  the  interven- 
tion of  a  celebrated  Mohammedan  literary  friend.  This 
experience  led  him  to  realize  that  he  had  to  seek  shelter 
elsewhere,  settling  finally  in  Fostat  (Cairo).  Losing  his 
father,  and  subsequently  his  brother  David,  ^Faimoni- 
des,  who  had  during  his  entire  life  devoted  himself  to 

98  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

the  study  and  exposition  of  the  law,  now  began  to  earn 
his  own  livelihood  bv  the  practice  of  medicine.  He  was 
so  successful  a  physician  that  tlie  attention  of  Saladin's 
Vizier  was  directed  to  Jiini,  who,  in  turn  recommended 
him  to  the  royal  family,  with  the  result  that  he  became 
physician  to  the  Court,  a  position  which,  according  to 
Arabic  accounts,  was  also  offered  to  him  in  the  court  of 
Richard  the  First.  The  strenuosity  of  his  life,  which 
his  dual  position  as  physician  to  the  Court,  and  as  re- 
ligious head  of  the  Cairo  community  entailed,  is  stated 
by  him  in  a  letter  written  in  1199  to  his  friend  and  the 
translator  of  his  works.  Rabbi  Samuel  Tbn  Tibbon.  Says 
Maimonides  in  his  letter: 

"  With  respect  to  your  wish  to  come  here  to  me,  I 
cannot  but  say  how  greatly  your  visit  would  delight  me: 
for  T  truly  long  to  communicate  with  you,  and  would 
anticipate  our  meeting  with  even  greater  joy  than 
you.  Yet  I  must  advise  you  not  to  expose  yourself 
to  the  perils  of  the  voyage,  for  beyond  seeing  me  and 
my  doing  all  T  could  to  honor  you,  you  would  not  de- 
rive any  advantage  from  your  visit.  Do  not. expect  to 
be  able  to  confer  with  me  on  any  scientific  subject  for 
even  one  hour,  either  by  day  or  night;  for  the  following 
is  my  daily  occupation:  I  dwell  in  Mizr  (Fostat)  and 
the  Sultan  resides  at  Kahira  (Cairo).  These  two  places 
are  two  Sabbath  days'  journeys  (about  one  mile  and  a 
half  distant  from  each  other).  My  duties  to  the  Sultan 
are  very  heavy.  I  am  obliged  to  visit  him  every  day, 
early  in  the  morning,  and  when  he  or  any  of  his  children, 
or  any  of  the  inmates  of  his  harem  are  indisposed,  I 
dare  not  quit  Kahira,  but  must  stay  during  the  greater 
part  of  the  day  in  the  palace.    It  also  frequently  happens 

Mai.momuks  and  Nachmaxides  'J9 

that  one  or  two  of  the  otlicors  fall  sick,  and  I  must  at- 
tend to  their  healing;  hence,  as  a  rule,  1  repair  to 
Kahira  verv  early  in  the  day.  and  even  if  nothing  un- 
usual happens,  T  do  not  return  to  Mizr  until  the  after- 
noon. Then  I  am  almost  dying  with  hunger.  I  find 
the  ante-chambers  filled  with  people,  both  Jews  and 
Ctentiles,  nobles  and  common  people,  judges  and  bail- 
iffs, friends  and  foes  (a  mixed  multitude)  who  await 
the  time  of  my  return.  I  dismount  from  my  animal, 
wash  my  hands,  go  forth  to  my  patients,  and  entreat 
them  to  bear  with  me  while  I  partake  of  some  slight 
refreshment,  the  only  meal  I  take  in  the  twenty-four 
hours.  Then  I  go  forth  to  attend  to  my  patients,  write 
prescriptions  and  directions  for  their  several  ailments. 
Patients  go  in  and  out  until  nightfall,  and  sometimes 
even,  T  solemnly  assure  you,  until  two  hours  and  more 
in  the  night.  T  converse  with  them  and  prescribe  for 
them,  while  lying  down  from  sheer  fatigue ;  and  when 
night  falls,  I  am  so  exhausted  that  T  can  scarcely  speak. 
In  consequence  of  this,  no  Israelite  can  have  any  pri- 
vate interview  with  me,  exccf't  on  the  Sabbath.  On  that 
day  the  whole  congregation,  or  at  least  a  majority  of 
the  members  come  to  me  after  the  morning  service,  when 
I  instruct  them  as  to  their  proceedings  during  the  whole 
week,  we  study  together  a  little  until  noon,  when  they 
depart.  Some  of  them  return  and  read  with  me  after 
the  afternoon  service,  until  evening  prayers.  In  this 
manner  I  spend  that  day.  I  have  related  to  you  only  a 
part  of  what  you  would  see  if  you  were  to  visit  me."" 

The  most  important  works  which  have  come  down  to 
us  from  this  great  teacher  of  the  Middle  Ages — in  fact 
such  is  the  case  with  all  his  literary  productions — seem 

lf)0  Jewish  Biblical  Com.mkntators 

to  have  been  produced  in  their  succession,  in  conse- 
(|iience  of  the  thou^^lit  changes  which  were  then  taking 
place  in  ]\Iedieval  Europe.  Attracted  as  he  was  by  the 
philosophical  disciplines  of  his  time,  he  did  not  state 
the  attitude  of  the  Jew  towards  them,  without  first 
analyzing  and  summarizing  carefully  for  himself  and 
his  contemporaries,  the  fundamental  concepts  and  the 
accumulated  traditions  of  Israel.  Thus  it  happens  that 
at  the  early  age  of  twenty-three,  he  began  a  commentary 
on  the  ^lishnah,  known  by  the  Arabic  name  "Sirag " 
literally  "  illumination."  His  object  was  to  simplify  for 
the  beginner,  the  study  of  the  Talmud.  He  takes  up 
every  Mishnah  separately,  furnishes  an  explanation  for 
it,  and  gives  the  result  of  the  discussion  carried  on  by 
the  Gemarah,  with  the  Mishnah  as  a  basis.  It  was  writ- 
ten in  Arabic  in  order  to  make  it  accessible  to  Arabic 
speaking  people,  although  later  in  life  he  regretted  the 
fact  that  he  had  not  written  it  in  Hebrew.  For  its  He- 
brew rendition,  Charisi,  Joseph  Ben  Isaac  Ibn  Alfual, 
and  Jacob  Abbassi  were  responsible,  each  contributing 
a  part. 

A  second  work  of  Maimonides,  theological,  ethical  and 
liturgical  in  character,  is  his  "  Yad  Chazaqah  "  literally 
"  the  strong  hand  "  written  in  Hebrew.  As  indicated  by 
the  numerical  value  of  the  term,  "  Yad,"  it  consists  of 
fourteen  parts,  and  presents  m  systematic  form,  accord- 
ing to  subject  matter,  Talmudical  teachings  and  laws. 
This  work,  in  fact,  is  a  code  treating  the  institutions  of 
Judaism  on  the  basis  of  Bildical,  Talmudical,  and  post- 
Talmud  i(^al  literature.  In  the  first  part  we  have  the 
concepts  about  God,  the  teachings  with  regard  to  the 
study  of  the  law,  and  injunctions  concerning  idolatry; 

Maimoxidks  and   XaCII-MAMDKS  101 

ill  tlic  riecond  the  love  due  tu  liod;  in  the  third,  la\V!^ 
witli  regard  to  Sabbaths  and  lioliday.s;  in  the  loiirlh, 
hiws  concerning  marriage;  in  the  lil'tii,  forbidden  mar- 
riages and  food;  in  the  sixth,  vows  and  oaths;  in  the 
seventh,  regulations  concerning  agriculture;  in  the 
eighth,  the  divine  service;  n\  the  ninth,  offerings;  in 
the  tenth,  rules  of  cleanliness;  in  the  eleventh,  the  crimi- 
nal law;  in  the  twelfth,  laws  of  purchase  and  sale;  in 
the  thirteenth,  the  civil  law;  and  in  the  fourteenth, 
regulations  governing  courts,  judges  and  kings. 

The  principal  work  of  Maimonides  was  his  "  More 
Xebuchini  " — "  The  Guide  of  the  Perplexed."  It  was 
written  in  Arabic,  and  is  known  by  the  name  "  Dalalat 
Al-Hairin."  Its  first  translation  into  Hebrew  was  made 
Ijv  Samuel  Ibn  Til)bon,  and  almost  simultaneously  with 
him,  Jehudah  Al  C'harizi  ako  produced  a  Hebrew  ren- 
dition of  the  original.  In  "The  Guide  of  the  Per- 
plexed," Maimonides  defines  the  attitude  of  Judaism 
towards  the  prevailing  philosophies  of  the  times,  and 
establishes  harmony  between  the  Bible  and  Aristotele- 
anism.  Its  object  is  stated  best  by  himself  in  his  intro- 
duction, when  he  says : 

"  I  have  written  this  work  neither  for  the  common 
people  nor  for  beginners,  nor  for  those  who  occupy  them- 
selves only  with  the  law  as  it  is  handed  down,  without 
concerning  themselves  with  its  principles.  The  design 
of  this  work  is  rather  to  promote  the  understanding  of 
the  real  spirit  of  the  law,  to  guide  those  religious  per- 
sons, who,  adhering  to  tlie  Torah,  have  studied  philoso- 
phy and  are  embarrassed  by  tlie  contradiction  between 
the  teachings  of  philosophy,  and  the  literal  sense  of  the 

102  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

It  is  divided  into  three  parts.  The  ilrst  part  treats  of 
the  attributes  ol*  the  Deity,  which  are  preceded  by  the 
consideration  of  homonyms  and  synonyms.  Tlie  point 
liere  made  by  him  is,  that  terms  used  with  reference  to 
God,  whicli  are  applicable  to  man,  are  used  only  anthro- 
pomorphistically.  The  first  part  closes  with  an  analysis 
of  the  principles  of  the  Motekallemin.  The  second  part 
treats  of  the  essence  of  the  "  First  Cause "  and  the 
theory  of  Aristotle  as  agreeing  in  many  points  with  tlie 
teacliings  of  Scriptures,  of  angels,  the  planets,  crea- 
tion, prophecy,  and  prophetical  visions.  The  third  part 
treats  of  the  visions  of  Ezekiel,  of  the  various  kinds  of 
evil,  trials,  temptations,  and  the  reasons  for  the  giving 
of  the  Biblical  precepts.  It  is  in  this  work  that  i\Iai- 
monides  formulated  for  the  first  time  in  the  history  of 
Jews,  articles  of  creed,  which  are,  in  his  case,  thirteen 
in  number^  as  reflected  in  the  "  Yigdal "  one  of  the 
hymns  still  in  existence  in  the  ritual  of  the  Synagogue. 

In  addition  to  the  works  already  mentioned,  there 
are  a  number  of  minor  literary  productions.  They  are 
the  "  Sefer  Hamizvoth  "— "  The  Book  of  the  Command- 
ments " ;  the  "  Iggereth  Hashemad  " ;  a  treatise  on  apos- 
tacy  from  Judaism,  and  on  martyrdom;  and  the  "Ig- 
gereth Teman,"  a  treatise  on  the  Messianic  hope. 

As  in  the  case  of  many  other  Jewish  writers,  who 
have  rendered  valuable  service  to  Biblical  exegesis,  the 
opinions  of  Moses  Maimonides  on  the  intent  of  Scrip- 
tures are  not  to  be  found  in  any  one  book  or  work,  de- 
voted to  Biblical  interpretation  as  such,  but  are  scat- 
tered through  his  writings,  and  are  not  any  the  less 
valuable  on  this  account. 

As  epoch-making  as  Maimonides  was  in  the  realm  of 

Maimonides  and  Naciimanides  103 

religious  philosophy,  so  epoch-making  he  was  also  in 
the  province  oi'  Biblical  exegesis.  'J'his  I'act  must  needs 
be  self-evident,  in  view  of  hi.-;  employment  of  philosopJiy 
in  the  interpretation  of  the  Scriptures.  If  there  is  one 
word  which  characterizes  his  exegesis,  it  is  the  term, 
"  rationalistic."  His  attitude  towards  tradition  was 
very  much  the  same  as  that  of  Ibn  Ezra,  in  that  he  took 
account  only  of  the  contents  of  the  traditional  interpre-* 
ration,  but  did  not  look  upon  it  as  a  final  authority.  The 
Aggada  received  his  attention  only  as  a  stage  in  tiie 
gradual  development,  making  for  the  thorough  under- 
standing of  the  Bible.  With  him,  Bible  and  science 
were  not  in  conflict  with  one  another.  Xor  did  he  con- 
cern himself  merely  with  the  literary  study  of  Scrip- 
tures. In  his  estimation,  Hebrew  grammar  and  rhetoric 
constituted  the  stones,  and  philosophy  the  mortar  which 
had  to  be  used  in  the  construction  of  an  enduring  exe- 
gesis. Whatever  some  of  his  critics  may  say  to  the  con- 
trarv,  it  cannot  be  denied  that  the  rimd  svstem  of  Mai- 
monides  made  clear,  in  numerous  instances,  the  mean- 
ing of  many  a  Scriptural  passage  and  expression,  which 
for  others  remained  shrouded  in  obscurity.  To  show 
liis  rationalism  let  us  call  attention  to  the  following: 

The  Pentateuch  is,  in  his  opinion,  a  book  illuminating 
many  mysteries.  The  prophetical  writings  are  to  him 
indicative  of  a  marked  genius  possessed  by  their  authors; 
and  the  Hagiographa  testify  to  an  intellectual  superi- 
ority, with  which  their  authors  were  gifted.  With  re- 
gard to  Canticles  he  holds,  that  it  consists  of  poetical 
allegories.  Concerning  Koheleth,  he  states,  that  it  con- 
tains many  non-religious  elements.  And  of  Job  he  as- 
serts that  it  is  a  ])arable,  the  object  of  which  is  to  por- 
trav  the  theories  of  man  on  the  wavs  of  Providence, 

101  Jewish  Biblical  Commektatohs 

Since  he  re-echoes  the  Tahniidical  saying,  "  The 
Torah  speaks  in  the  language  of  man,"  it  is  but  natural 
that « he  should  father  the  doctrine,  that  when  human 
organs,  powers  and  feelings  are  ascribed  to  God  by  the 
Scriptures,  such  expressions  must  be  understood  meta- 
phorically, and  not  literally.  He  is,  in  this  particular, 
therefore,  in  very  close  sympathy  with  the  interpreta- 
•tions  of  the  Targumim.  For  the  purpose  of  showing 
the  metaphorical  use  of  such  Biblical  expressions,  he 
explains  the  difference  of  connotation  between  the  syno- 
nyms "  Toar,"  "  Zelem,"  "  Demuth  "  (form  or  like- 
ness) ;  also  the  difference  between  "  Tabhnith  "  and  "  Te- 
munah  "  (form,  likeness),  and  between  verbs  such  as 
"Eaah,"  "  Ilibit  "  and  ''^  Chazah  "  (to  see);  between 
'•  Qarabh,"  "  Xaga  "  and  "  Xagash  "  (to  touch,  to  ap- 
proacli)  ;  between  "  Bara,"  "  Asah  "  and  "  Yazar  "  (to 
create,  make,  form)  ;  between  "  Ahabh  "  and  "  Chashaq  " 
(to  love). 

The  same  end  is  subserved  by  his  explanation  of  such 
homonyms  as  "  Elohim "  (God),  "Adam"  (man), 
"Ish"  (man),  "  Panim  "  (face).  "  Achor "  (back), 
"Kegel"  (foot),  "  Ayin "  (eye),  "  Lebh "  (heart), 
"  Xef esh  "  ( soul ) ,  "  Ruach  "  ( spirit ) ,  "  Maqom  " 
(place),  etc.;  and  by  the  explanation  of  such 
verbs  as  "  Alah  "  (to  go  up)  and  "  Yarad,"  (to  go 
down),  "Halakh"  (to  go),  "  Ba  "  (to  come),  "  Yaza  " 
(to  go  out),  "Yashabh"  (to  sit),  "  Qum  "  (to  stand), 
etc.,  when  applied  to  God.  His  interpretations  of  the 
various  appellatives  for  the  Deity  are  of  interest.  The 
name  "  Eheyeh  "  he  derives  from  "  Hayah  "  (to  be). 
"  Adonay  "  is  derived  from  "  Adon  "  meaning  "  Lord." 
"  Elohim "   is   a   term   indicating   an   attribute   of   the 

Maimoxidks  and  Xaciiman'ides  105 

Deity,  like  '' licU'liuiii,"  etc.  lie  believes  in  angels  as 
s})iritual  beings,  mediating  between  Ciod  and  man.  His 
presentation  of  })ropheev  is  ol*  moment,  lie  holds  that 
the  pro})lietie  taeulty  is  natural  to  man,  but  that  man 
may  be  prevented  from  prophesying,  by  Divine  interven- 
tion. Prophets  are,  by  him,  said  to  dillVr  in  degree  of 
prophetical  power.  The  prophet  receives  his  message 
through  either  a  dream,  vision  or  an  angel.  Moses  is 
the  prophet  of  prophets.  He  alone  saw  God  face  to 
face.  On  Genesis  1,  he  states  that  the  creation  story  is 
not  to  l)e  taken  literally,  and  asserts  that  he  discovers 
in  it  tlie  teachings  of  Aristotelean  physics  and  meta- 
physics, as  he  does  in  Ezekiel  1. 

The  sources  ]\[aimonides  consulted  were  the  gram- 
marians Abulwalid  and  Cliayyug,  the  translator  Saadia, 
and  the  Biblical  exegete  Abraham  Ibn  Ezra.  The  Bib- 
lical exegetes  of  the  Church  were  also  not  unknown  to 
him,  and  are  quoted  repeatedly. 

So  liighly  esteemed  was  tDe  service  Maimonides  ren- 
dered to  the  Jewish  cause,  that  the  saying  came  into 
vogne,  "  From  ]\[oses  unto  Moses  tliere  arose  none  like 
Moses";  which  meant  to  convey  the  idea,  that  from 
Moses,  the  law-giver  in  Israel,  to  Moses  Maimonides. 
the  philosopher,  none  arose  like  either  Moses. 

Whereas  there  were  many,  in  the  days  of  Maimonides, 
who  were  willing  to  endorse  this  eulogistic  estimate  of 
l^ambam,  it  cannot  be  said  that  he  had  naught  but  ad- 
mirers. It  must  be  remembered  that  his  philosophy 
and  exegesis  were  a  new  departure,  and  as  such,  were 
calculated  to  meet  with  opposition.  The  Biblical  schol- 
ars of  his  time,  and  of  the  centuries  immediately  suc- 
ceeding   his,    ranged    themoclves.    therefore,    into    two 

106  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

hostile  camps.  The  Talniudists  objected  to  his  explana- 
tion of  anthropomorjiliisms,  employed  in  the  Bible. 
]\lidrashim  and  Talmud,  and  to  his  high  regard  of 
philosophy.  Among  his  opponents  were  Babbi  Abraham 
Ben  David  of  Posquieres,  known  as  "  Eabhad/'  who  at- 
tacked Maimonides'  "  Yad  Chazaqah  "  on  the  grounds, 
that  he  wrote  in  a  Hebrew  different  froui  the  Talmudic 
idiom;  that  he  departed  from  the  Talmudic  arrange- 
ment of  subjects;  and  that  he  failed  to  state  the  sources 
of  some  of  his  opinions.  Maimonides  defended  hiuiself 
against  Eabhad's  attack,  by  stating  that  the  brevity  and 
the  dialect  he  employed  in  the  presentation  of  his  sub- 
ject, would  make  the  work  more  welcome  to  tlie  student. 
Another  opponent  was  Rablji  Meir  Halevi  Abulafia, 
head  of  the  school  in  Toledo.  A  third  was  Rabbi  Solo- 
mon Ben  Abraham  of  ^lontpellier,  and  a  fourth  was 
Judah  Ben  Joseph  Alfacher  of  Toledo.  So  intense  was 
the  opposition  on  the  part  of  some  scholars,  against  the 
theories  of  Maimonides,  that  the  works  of  Maimonides 
were  subsequently  burned  publicly,  in  the  City  of  Paris, 
because  regarded  by  strict  Talmud ists,  as  heretical  lit- 
erature. While  the  enemies  of  Maimonides  were  busy 
pointing  out  his  heresies,  his  friends  did  not  lose  time 
to  espouse  his  cause.  Some  of  these  were  Samuel  Ibn 
Til)bin,  Al  Charisi,  Bedarshi,  Ibn  Kaspe,  Ben  Palquera. 
David  Kimchi,  and  Nachmanides. 

To  the  last  named  of  this  coterie  of  men,  we  shall  now 
devote  special  attention,  in  view  of  the  importance  he 
won  for  himself  as  a  Biblical  commentator. 

The  fuller  name  of  N'achmanides  was  Moses  Ben 
Xachman  Ciorondi.  wliich  was  abbreviated  into  "  Pam- 
ban."  a  title  consistino-  of  the  initials  of  his  name.     He 

Maimonides  and  Nachmanides  107 

was  boni  in  Gurona,  Spain,  in  llD-t,  and  died  in  Pales- 
tine, 1*^U).  His  family  was  one  of  the  most  illustrious 
among  Spanish  Jews.  The  critical  faculty,  of  which 
he  gave  evidence  early  in  life,  was  inherited  by  him  from 
his  father,  who,  himself,  had  reached  to  high  rungs  of 
scholarship.  From  his  earliest  youth  he  took  for  his 
ideal  the  great  Talmudic  authority,  Alfazi.  Apart  from 
devoting  himself  to  Biblicai  and  Talmudical  research, 
which  in  his  time  constituted  the  provinces  in  which 
talented  Jewish  young  men  had  to  be  trained,  he  studied 
medicine  and  philosophy,  and  in  addition  to  mastering 
Spanish  and  Hebrew,  was  an  expert  in  Arabic.  He  was 
thoroughly  at  home  in  the  writings  of  Eashi,  Ibn  Ezra, 
and  Maimonides,  as  evidenced  by  him  in  his  works,  on 
the  one  side,  and  in  his  defence  of  Maimonides  on  the 
other.  History  reports  of  him,  that  he  took  the  leading 
part,  on  account  of  his  extensive  Jewish  knowledge  and 
wide  communal  influence,  in  a  religious  disputation,  in 
the  year  1263,  at  Barcelona.  In  the  royal  palace  were 
assembled  bishops  and  priests,  men  and  women  of  the 
Court,  knights,  and  leaders  of  the  municipality.  Into 
the  presence  of  this  august  assemblage,  Xachmanides 
w^as  invited,  to  defend  the  teachings  of  Judaism,  against 
the  cliarges  of  the  apostate  Jew,  Fra  Paolo  Christiani 
of  ^fontpellier,  a  missionary  to  the  Jews.  The  session 
lasted  several  days,  at  the  end  of  which,  Xachmanides 
chronicled  his  victory  over  an  imprincipled  apostate. 

As  Xachmanides  championed  the  cause  of  Maimonides 
against  his  enemies,  so  he  took  up  the  cause  of  Alfazi, 
against  Sarachya  Halevi  and  Abraham  Ben  David,  who 
attacked  Alfazi's  Talmudic  i)roductions.  In  the  latter 
part  of  his  life,  Xachmanides  was  very  anxious  to  visit 

108  Jkwisii   Biblical  Commentators 

Jerusalem,  and  undertook  the  journey  in  I'^O?.  It  is 
stated  that  the  journey  to  the  Holy  Land  was  under- 
taken on  account  of  his  violation  of  the  King's  order  to 
the  effect,  that  the  disputation,  in  which  Nachmanides 
took  part  in  Barcelona,  was  to  remain  unknown 
to  the  various  communities.  The  place  of  his  hurial 
is  not  definitely  known.  Some  cUiim  that  his  remains 
were  intered  at  Kaifa,  while  others  state  that  his  burial 
took  place  in  the  City  of  Jerusalem. 

In  addition  to  Talmudic  works,  he  produced  also  lit- 
erature of  a  homilectical  and  ritualistic  kind;  as  for 
example,  his  writings  on  the  holiness  and  significance 
of  marriage;  on  customs  of  mourning;  on  reward  and 
punishment;  and  on  kindred  subjects.  That  he  took 
quite  an  active  part  in  the  development  of  the  Qabbalah 
is  generally  recognized.  The  work  issuing  from  his 
pen,  which  interests  us  most,  from  the  standpoint  of  our 
present  specific  study  of  him,  is  his  commentary  on  the 
Pentateuch,  usually  found  printed  below  the  com- 
mentaries of  Kashi  and  Ibn  Ezra  in  the  Miqraoth  Gedo- 
loth,  the  large  edition  of  the  Hebrew  Bible.  Although 
a  defender  of  ^Faimonides,  Nachmanides  was  not  as 
pronounced  a  rationalist  as  Maimonides.  It  is  true,  his 
commentary  is  marked  by  the  Peshat,  the  natural  sense, 
but  through  it  runs  a  strong  undercurrent  of  mysticism, 
which  makes  him  the  first  of  Biblical  critics  to  introduce 
into  the  study  of  the  Bible,  the  flavor  of  the  Qabbalah. 
One  of  the  points,  in  which  he  more  particularly  differs 
from  Maimonides,  is  his  belief  in  the  miracles  of  the 
Bible;  not  saying,  as  did  Maimonides,  that  they  should 
be  expounded  in  the  light  of  natural  phenomena,  but 
holding  that  human  affairs  are  miraculously  controlled. 

Mai  MoNiDKs  AND  Naciimamues  lOii 

'Vhc  introduction  to  the  book  of  (Joncsis,  written  by 
Xaclinianides,  declares  his  position  with  reference  to 
Scriptures,  and  we  shall,  therefore,  consider  a  few  of  its 
statements.     Says  Nachmanides: 

"  ]\Ioses  wrote  the  whole  Torah  ii|)on  dictation  from 

Ood The  two  tablets  of  stone  contain  the  Ten 

Commandments,  the  term  'commandments'  incliidin<,^ 

both     commandments     and     prohibitions When 

Moses  retnrned  from  Mt.  Sinai,  he  wrote  the  first  part 
of  the  Torah  to  the  end  of  the  account  of  the  huilding 
of  the  Tabernacle,  while  the  latter  part  was  written  by 
Closes  at  the  end  of  the  fortieth  year  of  Israel's  wander- 
ing through  the  desert Fifty  avennes  of  com- 
prehension were  created  in  the  world,  and  Moses  was 
denied  only  one  of  these,  in  acordance  with  Psalm  8:0: 
'  Thon  hast  made  him  little  less  than  God.'  ....  Know 
my  answer  to  the  question,  why  I  have  written  my  com- 
mentary as  T  did.  T  adhere  to  tlie  methods  of  the 
ancients,  and  wish  to  encourage  the  study  of  Scriptures 
among  people,  on  Sabbaths  and  holidays,  inasmuch  as 
I  refresh  the  heart  with  the  natural  interpretation,  and 
add  to  it,  many  an  explanation  of  the  hidden  wisdom." 

In  view  of  the  fact  that  N'achmanides  helped  to  cul- 
tivate the  Qabbalah,  he  became,  as  his  commentary 
shows,  a  severe  critic  of  Ibn  Ezra,  the  outspoken  op- 
ponent to  the  Jewish  Medieval  mysticism.  It  is  Pro- 
fessor Schechter,  who  says  of  Xachmanides,  when  con- 
trasting liim  witli  Maimonides,  "If  he  was  not  a  pro- 
found thinker  like  the  author  of  the  Guide  of  the  Per- 
plexed, ho  had  that  which  is  next  best — he  felt  pro- 

Whereas  Xachmanides  did  considerable  to  allav  the 

110  Jewlsji  Biblical  Commentatous 

bitter  feelings  between  Maimonists  and  anti-^Iaimonists, 
lie  did  not  succeed  in  putting  an  end  to  the  declarations 
previousl}'  made,  that  Mainionides,  with  his  writings, 
overthrew  the  foundations  of  Jewish  belief.  For  several 
centuries,  it  was  considered  heretical  to  study  the  More 
Xebuchim.  Only  as  the  intellectual  atmosphere  was 
clarified  by  the  growing  strength  of  the  rationalistic 
movement,  was  the  work  which  ^faimonidcs  rendered 
the  cause  of  Biblical  exegesis,  by  his  harmonization  be- 
tween Biblical  and  Aristotelean  thought,  appreciated  as 
it  deserved. 


Mendelssohn  and  the  Biurists 

History  reveals  some  queer  phenomena.  The  progress 
it  chronicles  in  the  civilization  of  mankind,  is  shown  to 
be  far  from  constant.  In  many  instances,  humanity 
appears  to  find  it  impossible  to  make  many  strides  for- 
ward, without  first  stepping  back  a  short  distance.  This 
observation  holds  good  both  in  the  case  of  universal 
histor}^  and  in  the  annals  of  separate  peoples.  The 
story  of  the  Jew  is  no  exception  to  the  rule.  Often, 
when  a  tidal  wave  of  expansion  and  growth  gives  prom- 
ise of  its  uninterrupted,  aye  even  perpetual  flow,  the  ebb 
sets  in,  and  prevents,  for  many  cycling  years,  the  re- 
sumption of  activity,  calculated  to  event  in  a  broader 

The  death  of  Maimonides  may  be  said  to  mark  one 
of  the  turning  points  in  the  development  of  the  world's 
Jewry,  not  because  of  the  hostile  attitude  assumed  by  his 
opponents,  toward  his  philosophy,  but  because  of  the 
unfavorable  conditions  which  dawned  for  Jews,  almost 
everywhere  on  the  European  Continent.  Proscriptions 
and  persecutions  constituted  the  lot  of  Israel.  The 
Christian  Church  completely  possessed  by  the  desire  to 
Christianize  the  world,  was  bent  upon  exterminating 
the  synagogue.  Living  amid  such  harrassing  environ- 
ment in  every  European  country,  the  Jew  could  hardly 
be  expected  to  continue,  for  any  great  length  of  time, 
his  cultivation  of  religious  philosophy  and  of  scientific 

114  Jewish  Biblual  Commentators 

exegesis.  With  the  exception  of  some  minor  philosoph- 
ical treatises,  Levi  Ben  Gerson's  "  Milchamoth  Adonay  " 
— "  Battles  of  the  Lord  "  (written  in  the  first  half  of 
tlic  Fourteenth  Centurv),  and  Joseph  Albo's  "  Iqqarim  " 
— "Fundamental  Principles"  (produced  in  the  Fif- 
teenth Century),  constituted  the  only  important  con- 
tributions to  religious  philosophy,  since  the  creation  of 
the  "  More  Xebuchim." 

The  peculiar  kinds  of  literature,  offsprings  of  op- 
pression and  persecution  the  Jews  suffered  in  the  middle 
ages,  are  poetry,  Qabbalism,  history,  apologetics,  and 
legal  codes.  The  poetry  reflected  the  sorrows  and  hopes 
of  an  outraged  people,  and  found  its  way  into  the  ritual 
of  the  synagogue.  The  Qabbalism  monumentalized 
mystical  speculations  about  God,  His  relation  to  the 
universe,  and  the  relation  of  the  universe  to  Him;  the 
series  of  created  worlds,  and  the  secret  of  their  emana- 
tions, the  reciprocal  influence  of  worlds  on  one  another, 
the  occult  significance  of  the  names  of  the  Deity,  the 
existence  of  angels  and  demons,  and  the  nature  of  the 
world  to  come.  History  treats  of  the  description  of 
separate  communities,  their  trials  and  tribulations. 
Apologetics  concerns  itself  with  the  explanation  of  Jew- 
ish loyalty  and  the  defense  against  tlie  unjust  charges 
made  against  Jews,  either  by  Christian  theologians  or 
Jewish  apostates.  The  legal  codes,  such  as  the  "  Turim  " 
and  the  "  Schulchan  Arukh,"  summarized  the  Biblical 
and  rabbinical  rules  and  regulations  to  be  followed  by 
the  Jew,  in  the  government  of  his  conduct.  Every 
literary  effort  was  expended  in  the  production  of  such 
works,  which  helped  to  familiarize  Jews  with  ritualistic 
enactments,  to  promote  ecclesiastical  unity  and  solidar- 

Mendelssohn  and  the  Biurists  115 

ity,  despite  their  world-wide  dispersion,  and  to  rescue 
tliem  from  a  carefully  planned  annihilation. 

It  was  in  consequence  of  this  peculiar  status  of  the 
Jews  of  the  Middle  Ages,  that  the  science  of  Biblical 
criticism  was  allowed  to  remain  for  centuries,  fallow 
ground  among  them.  We  do  not  mean  to  convey  l)y 
this  statement,  the  idea,  that  no  one  ever  endeavored 
to  explain  the  meaning  of  a  Biblical  passage.  Biblical 
interpretations  are  indeed  to  be  found  in  nine  out  of 
every  ten  works,  produced  amid  the  ^lediacval  persecu- 
tions, but  these  interpretations  are  given  only  incident- 
all  v,  as  they  were  employed  to  cite  Biblical  foundation 
for  some  hope  entertained,  for  some  defense  set  up,  for 
some  legal  enactment  formulated,  and  for  some. theory 
advocated.  Xor  do  we  wish  to  ignore  the  commentaries 
on  Tsaiah  and  Ezekiel  by  Moses  Ben  Shesheth,  living  in 
Babylonia  in  the  Thirteenth  Century:  that  of  Eleazar 
Ashkenasi  on  the  Pentateuch,  living  in  the  Fourteenth 
Century;  that  of  Nethanel  Ben  Tsaiah  on  the  Penta- 
teuch, living  at  the  same  time;  and  those  of  Bachya 
Ben  Ascher,  Nathan  Ben  Samuel,  Asher  Ben  Jechiel, 
Samuel  Ben  Xissim,  Simon  Ben  Zemach  Duran,  Nissim 
Ben  Closes,  Eleazer  Ben  Jehudah  of  Worms,  Don  Isaac 
Abarbanel,  and  others.  The  point,  however,  that  we 
do  desire  to  make,  is  this — that  until  the  Eighteenth 
Century,  no  epoch-making  work  in  Biblical  exegesis 
came  into  existence,  with  the  exception  of  the  "  Tracta- 
tus  Theologico-Politicus "  of  Benedict  Spinoza,  the 
Dutch  philosopher,  who,  altiiough  excomunicated  from 
the  synagogue,  by  the  Amsterdam  rabbinate,  may  never- 
theless be  regarded  a  link  in  the  chain  of  Jewish  Biblical 
interpreters,  not  simply  because  he  was  born  a  Jew,  but 

11  (J  J j:\vlsii  Biblical  Commlntatoks 

because  liis  rationalism  was  influenced,  in  great  measure, 
by  the  exegesis  of  Maimonides. 

That  it  was  no  easy  task  to  lead  the  Jew  again  to  the 
study  of  tlie  Bible,  in  accordance  with  its  natural  mean- 
ing,  requires   no   detailed   demonstration.      The   night, 
through  which  the  Jew  had  passed,  had  lasted  so  long, 
that  some  of  his  intellectual  powers,  more  particularly 
those  bespeaking  careful  analysis  and  investigation,  had 
been   completely   lulled    to   sleep.      For   the    Christian 
world,  the  Middle  Ages  had  come  to  an  end,  with  the 
opening  of  the  Eighteenth  Century,  l)ut  for  the  Jew 
they  were  not  yet  to  be  succeeded  by  tlie  much  to  l)e  de- 
sired Renaissance.     In  almost  every  country  of  Europe, 
he  was  doomed  to  associate  only  with  his  own,  to  live 
in  tlie  Ghettos,  and  to  pursue  vocations  defined  for  him 
by  law.    He  was  thus  naturally  denied  that  intellectual 
broadening,  which  would  have  been  his,  in  consequence 
of  the  intercourse  with  people  who  looked  at  the  problems 
of  life  and  the  mysteries  of  the  universe,  from   view 
points  different  than  his  own.    The  only  mental  exercise, 
in  which  the  Jew  was  therefore  in  position  to  indulge, 
was  that  which  came  with  the  study  of  the  rabbinical 
law.     And  luckily  for  him,  that  he  was  at  least  per- 
mitted to  study  his  legal  codes.     It  rescued  him  from 
complete  mental  decay.     What  wonder,  however,  that 
in  the  face  of  the  discriminations  made  against  him,  the 
Jew  soon  learned  to  prefer  the  narrow  environment,  both 
physical  and  intellectual,  into  which  he  had  been  origin- 
ally forced  by  the  orders  of  kings,  and  the  edicts  of 
ecclesiastics.     While  virtually  all  over  Europe,  the  con- 
dition of  tlie  Jew  was  equally  distressing,  the  step  for 
his  improvement  was  taken  in  Germany.     Germany  was 

Mhxdhlssoiin  axu  tiik  BinusTS  117 

gradually  gaining  tlic  ascendoucy  in  culture,  on  the 
European  Continent,  and  while  its  Jews  spoke  the  Jew- 
ish German  jargon,  that  jargon,  because  so  pronouncedly 
German  in  character,  furnished  the  Jews  with  the  key 
to  tlie  understanding  of  the  sciences  and  the  arts  the 
Germans  cultivated.  And  when  once  the  Jews  had 
gazed  beyond  tlie  narrow  circle  of  their  Talmudical  en- 
vironment, they  soon  began  to  develop  again  the  study 
of  the  Bible,  from  the  rationalistic  point  of  view,  in  ad- 
dition to  familiarizing  themselves  with  the  truths  and 
discoveries  called  into  life  by  the  rationalism  of  tlie 
newer  day. 

Many  a  man,  of  course,  contributed  his  share  to  the 
modernization  of  the  Jew,  but  the  greatest  part  of  the 
work  certainly,  must  be  ascribed  to  Moses  Mendelssohn. 
Closes  Mendelssohn  was  born  at  Dessau,  Germany,  Sept. 
(),  1129,  and  died  at  Berlin,  Jan.  4,  1786.  He  was  the 
son  of  a  scribe,  who  engaged  in  the  copying  of  Torah 
manuscripts  for  a  living.  Mendelssohn's  first  teacher 
was  his  father,  and  his  later  instructor  was  David 
Frankel,  the  Kabbi  of  his  native  town. 

When,  in  1743,  Frankel  was  called  as  Eabbi  to  Berlin, 
Mendelssohn,  broken-hearted  because  of  separation  from 
his  teacher,  determined  to  follow  him  to  the  capitol  of 
Germany.  He  arrived  there  a  poor  and  friendless  boy, 
but  soon,  by  virtue  of  his  powers  and  affability,  formed 
the  acquaintance  of  men,  who  gladly  assisted  him  in  his 
further  education.  Israel  Samoscz  initiated  him  into 
the  mysteries  of  mathematics,  and  gave  him  instruction 
in  the  Jewish  philosophy  of  the  Middle  Ages.  Dr. 
Gumpertz  taught  him  German  literature,  and  the  French 
and  English  language;  and  Dr.  Xisch  was  responsible 

118  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

i'ur  liis  Latin  kuowlodgc.  While  subsequeutly  occupying 
the  position  as  tutor  in  the  family  of  a  silk  manufac- 
turer, Isaac  Bernhard,  and  a  little  later  that  of  his 
bookkeeper,  Mendelssohn  studied  the  works  of  the  Greek 
philosophers  and  those  of  Spinoza,  Leibnitz,  Locke  and 
others.  Of  Lessing,  the  German  literateur,  he  soon  be- 
came an  intimate  friend.  It  is  to  this  friendship,  that 
Mendelssohn  owed  his  mastery  of  the  pure  German,  and 
his  immortalization  as  Lessing's  "  Nathan  the  Wise." 
Mendelssohn's  writings  attracted  the  attention  of  the 
learned  men  of  Berlin  and  other  cities.  Friedrich 
Nicolai  invited  him  to  become  a  collaborer  in  the 
"  Bibliothek  der  Schonen  Wissenschaften  und  der 
Freien  Kiinste."  Among  others  who  became  interested 
in  him,  w^ere  the  Crown  Prince  of  Brunswick,  the  Count 
and  Countess  of  Schaumburg-Lippe,  Luise  Ulrika  of 
Sweden,  and  Johann  Kaspar  Lavater,  a  preacher  of 
Ziirich,  Switzerland.  It  was  the  last  named,  who  tried 
to  convert  Mendelssohn  to  Christianity  by  sending  Men- 
delssohn Charles  Bonnet's  investigation  of  the  proofs 
for  Christianity,  with  the  request,  or  rather  challenge, 
"  either  to  refute  the  book  publicly,  or  if  he  found  it 
logical,  to  do  what  wisdom,  love  of  truth  and  honor 
required,  and  what  Socrates  w^ould  have  done  if  he  had 
read  the  work  and  found  it  irrefutable."  Mendelssohn 
accepted  the  challenge,  and  proved  that  Bonnet's  book 
did  not  succeed  in  converting  him,  and  that  his  belief 
in  the  truths  of  his  own  religion,  was  unshakable. 

The  debate,  however,  was  not  at  an  end.  One  brochure 
after  another  w^as  written  against  Mendelssohn,  to  the 
most  of  which  he  replied.  This  controversy  soon  began 
to  tell  upon  his  health,  so  that  he  was  eventually  com- 

Mendelssohn  and  the  Biurists  11!) 

polled  to  seek  recreation  at  l*yniiont,  where  he  formed 
the  acquaintance  ol*  Herder,  jiii  acquaintance  which  soon 
developed  into  the  warmest  friendship. 

Mendelssohn's  philosophical  writings  are  many  and 
various.  Because  of  his  ''  Phaedon/'  which  is  patterned 
after  Plato's  dialogue  by  th.e  same  name,  and  which 
treats  of  the  immortality  of  the  soul,  he  bears  the  name, 
"  German  Plato  ''  and  sometimes  also  that  of  "  German 
Socrates."  lie  wrote  also  extensively  on  literary  prob- 
lems, from  the  critical  standpoint. 

While  his  activities  in  the  interest  of  Jews,  for  the 
]nirpose  of  gaining  for  them  civil  emancipation,  which 
was  still  denied  them  in  Europe,  evidenced  itself  not 
only  in  marked  personal  propaganda,  but  also  in  valuable 
writings,  and  while  his  exposition  of  the  Jewish  faith 
was  lucidly  presented  in  his  "  Jerusalem,"  "  Morgen- 
stunden  "  and  his  translatioa  of  Menasseh  Ben  Israel's 
"  Pescue  of  tlie  Jews,"  his  constructive  influence  in  be- 
half of  Jewish  thought,  was  exercised  most  tellingly 
by  means  of  his  Biblical  researches. 

Mendelssohn  felt  that  it  was  absolutely  necessary  for 
the  German  Jews  to  forget  their  jargon,  and  learn  to 
speak  the  German  language.  He  held  that  this  was 
their  duty  not  only  as  subjects  of  the  Prussian  govern- 
ment, but  also  as  members  of  society,  who  should  be 
eager  to  avail  themselves  of  the  culture  of  their  time. 
He  knew  of  no  better  way  of  bringing  about  this  de- 
sired end,  than  by  translating  the  Pentateuch,  Psalms, 
and  Song  of  Songs  into  German.  The  translations  met 
with  cordial  welcome  at  the  hands  of  the  more  en- 
lightened Jewish  constituency,  and  also  with  opposi- 
tion, resulting  in  tlio  pronouncing  of  a  ban  on  his  Pen- 

120  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

tateuch,  at  the  hands  of  such  men  as  llaphael  Kohen 
of  Altoona. 

The  Pentateuch  was  finished  in  1783.  Although  his 
opponents  pointed  to  dangers  into  which  Jews  would 
run,  by  using  a  translation  of  parts  of  the  Bible,  in  the 
vernacular  of  the  land,  these  dangers  were  not  realized. 
The  Mendelssohn  translations  had  the  direct  opposite 
effect.  Apart  from  making  Jews  appreciative  of  the 
value  of  the  broader  Jewish  culture,  the  Mendelssohn 
translations  aroused  within  them  an  interest  in  the  study 
of  Hebrew  grammar,  which,  during  the  long  night  of 
Medieval  persecution,  had  been  almost  altogether  neg- 
lected by  them. 

A  few  extracts  from  Mendelssohn's  introduction  to 
his  translations,  will  suffice  to  present  a  clear  idea  of 
the  motives  which  actuated  him  to  undertake  the  epoch- 
making  work. 

Says  Mendelssohn  in  his  introduction  to  the  Penta- 
teuch translation : 

"As  long  as  the  Israelites  did  not  change  their  lan- 
guage, they  were  not  in  need  of  a  translation  of  the 
Holy  Scriptures. — When  they  came  to  Babylon,  they 
were  assimilated  with  the  people,  and  the  children  for- 
got the  mother  tongue. — When  Ezra  and  his  followers 
noticed  that  the  mother  tongue  had  been  forgotten  by 
the  great  mass  of  the  people,  teachers  translated  the 
Scriptures  into  Aramaic.  His  object  was  to  get  the 
people  to  understand  the  Scriptures  by  means  of  trans- 
lation, and  to  get  them  to  learn  anew,  the  forgotten 
language. — When  the  Greeks  gained  the  supremacy,  the 
Aramaic  was  set  aside. — Thus  they  forgot  also  the  trans- 
lation which  Ezra  had   ordered. — Aqila  translated   the 

Mendelssohn  axd  the  Biurists  1?! 

Scriptures  into  Greek. — Aqila  was,  however,  not  the 
first  CJreek  transUitor.  The  Septiiagiiit,  and  other  (jreek 
versions,  were  written  before  his. — In  the  year  'M)7, 
(1547),  there  appeared  at  Constantine,  a  Pentateiuli 
with  Spanish  and  Greek  translation." 

In  the  introduction  to  liis  translation  of  tlie  Psalms, 
lie  asks  the  reader  to  forget  for  a  sliort  time,  everytliing 
read  in  translations,  expositions  and  paraphrases,  and 
also  to  note,  how,  in  many  places,  he,  Mendelssohn, 
deviated  from  all  his  predecessors.  He  calls  attention 
to  the  fact  that  changes  were  made  by  him,  based  on 
critical  grounds.  He  acknowledges  his  indebtedness  to 
Michaelis'  translation,  and  to  that  of  Professor  Knapp, 
and  to  Lutlier,  for  the  German  diction.  The  critical 
attitude  of  Mendelssohn,  is  shown,  for  example,  in  his 
notes  on  Psalm  68,  when  he  states  that  Psalm  68  could 
not  have  been  written  by  David,  firstly  because  the 
style  is  not  Davidean,  and  secondly  on  account  of  the 
advice  given  to  desist  from  war. 

With  regard  to  Canticles  he  says  in  his  introduction 
to  liis  translation,  that  Canticles  is  not  all  one  poem, 
but  a  series  of  poems,  sung  by  the  shepherd  and  shep- 
herdess alternately. 

It  w^as  Mendelssohn,  who,  in  giving  a  critique  of 
Robert  Lowth^s  lectures  on  the  sacred  poetry  of  the 
Hebrews,  made  the  valuable  study  of  the  illustrious 
Oxford  scholar,  accessible  to  the  German  speaking 
world.  Says  Mendelssohn  in  substance,  by  way  of  in- 
troduction to  his  criticism,  "  Although  many  have  at- 
tempted to  translate  and  explain  Scriptures,  few  have 
taken  the  trouble  to  exhibit  the  sources  of  beauty  greatly 
a fl mired  by  the  masters  of  the  Hebrew  language.   People 

122  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

are  wout  to  take  great  care  in  the  study  of  Homer  and 
Virgil,  but  seldom  do  people  try  to  master  the  funda- 
mental rules  of  Hebrew  poetry.  He  that  wishes  to 
speak  on  Hebrew  poetry,  must  know  more  than  the 
grammar  of  the  language.  He  must  combine  with  his 
knowledge  of  the  language  its  philosophy,  and  must 
know  how  to  differentiate  between  the  specific  talents  of 
different  peoples.  Lowth's  treatise  is  surely  such  a 

Although  Mendelssohn  might  have  been  justified  in 
believing,  that  he  rendered  valuahle  service  in  the  better 
understanding  of  Scriptures,  by  making  his  transla- 
tion of  the  Pentateuch  and  the  other  books  mentioned, 
he  felt  that  the  translation  had  to  be  supplemened  by 
a  commentary.  The  task  of  producing  the  commentary 
in  question,  was  assigned  to  Solomon  Dubno,  who  was 
born  at  the  City  of  Dubno  1738,  and  who  died  at  Ams- 
terdam 1813.  Dubno  had  enjoyed  the  valuable  instruc- 
tion which  the  schools  of  Galicia  offered,  and  had  won 
for  himself  fame,  for  a  work  on  the  Hebrew  accents. 
However,  Dubno  did  not  finish  the  task.  All  that 
emanated  from  his  pen  was  a  commentary  in  Hebrew 
on  the  book  of  Genesis,  on  account  of  the  fact  that  he 
became  intimidated  by  the  adverse  criticisms  of  the 
reactionary  party.  At  first  Mendelssohn  thought  of 
finishing  the  commentary  himself,  but  he  realized  the 
great  difficulties  which  such  a  work  entailed.  He  there- 
fore divided  the  task.  He  himself  produced  the  com- 
mentary on  Exodus.  Leviticus  was  annotated  by 
Xaphtali  Herz  Wessely,  who  was  born  in  Hamburg, 
1725,  and  who  died  in  180.5.  Wessely  was  especially 
fitted  for  this  task,  in  view  of  his  extensive  acquaint- 

Mendelssohn  and  the  Biurists  123 

aucc,  not  only  witli  the  Hebrew  grammar,  but  with  all 
branches  ol'  knowledge  which  absorbed  the  attention  oi' 
scholars  in  his  day.  The  commentary  on  iSi  umbers  was 
the  work  of  Aaron  Jaroslav,  who  had  been  a  teacher  in 
the  house  oi'  Mendelssohn,  and  afterwards  resided  at 
liemberg,  at  all  times  one  of  the  most  prominent  Euro- 
pean Jewish  centres.  A  part  of  Deuteronomy  was 
delegated  to  Herz  Homberg,  a  native  of  Austria,  whose 
fame  as  a  Talnmdist  had  spread  into  Germany,  and 
whose  reading  of  the  current  literature  litted  him  for 
his  contribution  to  Mendelssohn's  Biblical  commentary. 
The  men,  who  are  responsible  for  the  Mendelssohnian 
commentary,  entitled  "  Netibhoth  Ha  Shalom  " — "  The 
Paths  of  Peace,''  are  known  in  history  as  the  "  Biurists  " 
— '•  The  Interpreters."  To  this  class  of  commentators 
belongs  also,  Joel  Loewe,  who  was  born  in  17bO,  and 
died  in  1802,  a  man  reputed  for  his  profound  gram- 
matical knowledge,  and  who,  together  with  Aaron  VVolf- 
sohn,  edited  the  "  Ha  Meassef ."  Into  this  category 
must  be  placed  such  men  as  Meir  Obernik,  the  com- 
mentator on  Joshua  and  Judges ;  Samuel  Detmold,  who, 
together  with  Obernik,  annotated  Samuel ;  Isaac  Euchel, 
the  commentator  of  Proverbs,  and  others. 

The  commentary  to  Kaplan  Eabe's  translation  of  Ec- 
clesiastes  was  written  by  Mendelssohn  himself. 

The  Biblical  exegesis  of  Mendelssohn  and  his  col- 
laborers,  as  crystallized  in  his  commentary  on  the  Penta- 
teuch and  on  several  other  Biblical  books,  marks  indeed 
a  revolution  in  the  attitude  of  Jews  towards  Scriptures. 
That  revolution  had  for  its  purpose  the  reinstatement 
of  the  Peshat,  or  natural  sense,  into  its  former  well- 
deserved   recognition.     ^lendelssohn   and   his   followers 

124:  J  i:\visii  Biblical  Commentators 

studied  with  care,  the  interpretations  given  by  Kaslii, 
Ibn  Ezra,  ^laiinonides  and  Xacliinanides,  concealed  for 
centuries  from  human  ken,  and  combined  wliat  was 
valuable  in  them,  with  the  conclusions  based  on  the 
rationalism  of  the  latter  days  of  the  Eighteenth  and 
the  earlier  days  of  the  Nineteenth  Centuries, 
tlius  creating  a  new  school  of  exegesis.  While  the 
i^>iurists  availed  themselves  of  the  information,  yielded 
on  the  intent  of  Scriptures  also  by  the  leaders  of  the 
Protestant  Chnrch,  the  fear  entertained  by  their  op- 
ponents that  the  Mendelssohnian  interpretation  would 
cease  to  have  a  Jewish  flavor,  was  unfounded.  It  was 
^[edia^val  mysticism  that  had  invaded  the  study  of  the 
Bible,  to  which  the  Mendelssohnian  exegetes  dealt  a 
fatal  blow;  but  the  genuine  principles  of  Jewish  the- 
ology not  only  did  not  suffer,  but  actually  benefited  by 
the  much  decried  movement.  The  door  to  Biblical  lore 
had  once  more  been  thrown  open  to  admit  the  People 
of  the  Book  to  their  rightful  place.  As  Luther  had 
been  the  father  of  the  Christian  Reformation,  so  Men- 
delssohn became  the  sponsor  of  the  Jewish  Keformation. 
Whether  Mendelssohn  was  conscious  of  the  rich 
harvest  that  crowned  his  sowing,  may  be  doubtful. 
Suffice  it  to  say  that  he  sowed  wisely  and  discreetly. 
He  not  only  Germanized  the  German  Jew,  but  also 
modernized  the  Jews  all  over  the  world.  His  researches 
found  their  way  gradually,  into  all  Jewish  communities. 
He  was  the  third  Moses  to  have  been  born  in  the  history 
of  Israel,  commissioned  to  undertake  his  people's  re- 
demption, from  the  degrading  and  annihilating  ob- 
scurantism. He  was  the  forerunner,  who,  by  his  sincer- 
ity and  honesty,  his  love  of  reason  and  truth,  paved  the 

Mendelssohn  and  tiii:  Bukists  125 

way,  not  only  for  \hv  Jew's  political,  Uiit  also  for  tlic 
Jew's  intellectual  cniaiu'ipatioii,  a  prominent  feature  of 
which  demonstrated  itself  in  the  hi^rher  exegesis  for 
which  the  age  succeeding  the  Mendelssohnian  became 



The  Xineteenth  Century  Critics 

One  of  tlic  most  interesting  chapters  in  the  story  of 
the  Jews,  from  all  points  of  view,  is  the  one  that  covers 
the  Xineteenth  Centnrv.  The  hopes  wliich  ^fendelssohn 
had  entertained,  when  he  undertook  to  plead  the  cause 
of  the  Jew,  before  the  Xon-Jewish  world,  and  to  trans- 
late the  Bible  into  German,  for  the  benefit  of  German 
Jewry,  began  to  be  realized,  if  not  in  fullest,  at  least 
in  partial  measure,  shortly  after  his  death.  Had  he 
been  spared  to  round  out  a  century,  the  sorrow  he  would 
have  experienced  upon  beholding  members  of  his  own 
family  forsaking  the  religion  of  their  fathers,  would 
certainly  have  been  mitigated  l)y  tliat  delight  whidi 
would  have  been  his,  on  witnessing  tlie  removal  of  civil 
disabilities  from  his  people.  Although  the  Jew  was  not 
declared  to  be  entitled  to  the  same  privileges  as  subjects 
of  other  persuasions  enjoyed  in  the  European  countries, 
and  periods  of  Jewish  recognition  were  time  and  again 
followed  l)y  periods  of  Jewish  repression,  tlio  lot  of  the 
Jew  was  undou1)tedly  more  endurable  in  tlie  1)eginning 
of  the  Xineteenth  Century  in  Germany,  than  it  had 
l)een  for  centuries,  all  over  the  European  Continent. 
Apart  from  the  lilieralism  manifested  by  leading  intel- 
lectuals, which  virtue  in  them  was  the  flower  of  their 
scientific  thinking,  several  events  co-o]iornted  in  better- 
ing the  condition  of  Jews  in  Germany.  Tn  ITST,  ^Tira- 
beau  published  his  work  on  "  ^fendelssohn  and  the  Pol- 

130  Jewish  Biblical  CoiMMlntatuks 

itical  Keforiu  of  Jews."  In  1791  the  French  National 
Assembly  granted  full  civil  rights  to  people  oL'  the 
Jewish  faith.  In  lv9(),  the  Batavian  National  Assembly 
granted  Jews  citizenship.  In  1807,  Napoleon  the  First, 
convened  the  celebrated  Great  Synhedrion  of  French 

What  happened  outside  of  Germany  was  sure  to  re- 
act upon  Germany  itself.  The  agitation  carried  on  in 
other  countries  was  soon  taken  up  by  the  German  Gov- 
ernment. The  Government  found,  that  its  Jewish  sub- 
jects, with  the  permission  granted  them  to  leave  the 
Ghettos  and  the  narrow  mental  disciplines  for  which 
the  Ghetto  was  responsible,  gave  promise  of  being  no 
less  German  in  nationality,  than  the  Germans  of  other 
faiths.  The  Jewish  jargon  had  been,  by  many  Jews, 
exchanged  for  the  purer  language  of  the  land.  The 
conviction  became  general,  that  given  the  opportunities, 
the  Jew  would  become  a  valuable  contributor  to  the 
sum  total  of  Germany's  material  and  intellectual  wel- 
fare. In  one  province  after  another,  emancipation,  with 
its  implied  rights,  was  granted  them.  In  1808,  West- 
phalia and  Baden  removed  Jewish  disabilities.  In 
1811,  Hamburg  followed  in  the  wake.  In  1812,  Meck- 
lenburg and  Prussia  did  the  same.  And  in  time,  other 
provinces  emancipated  their  Jewish  subjects. 

Whatever  the  value  of  the  various  privileges  granted 
by  the  emancipation  acts  may  have  been  to  the  Jews 
of  Germany,  not  one  compares  in  point  of  blessedness 
with  the  opening  of  the  doors  of  the  German  g}'mna- 
siums  and  universities  to  Jevrish  students.  Attendance 
at  the  higher  seats  of  learning  had  been  denied  Jews, 
until  the  close  of  the  first  decade  of  the  Nineteenth 

The  Nineteenth  CEXTinv  ('ihtics  i:;i 

Centurv,  Tlie  introduction  of  the  use  of  tlic  piiro 
German  bv  Mendelssohn,  liad  served  Jews  as  a  i>ood 
foundation,  on  whicli  to  build  the  knowledge  of  the 
sciences  now  offered  tliem.  No  sooner  had  thev  become 
acquainted  with  tlie  sciences  and  the  philosophies,  tanght 
at  the  higher  academical  institutions,  but  they 
began  to  apply  modern  scientiHc  and  philosophical 
methods  in  the  prosecution  of  their  religious  studies. 
It  was  felt,  that  religion  and  everything  pertaining  to 
it.  should  be  subjected  to  the  same  sort  of  analysis  as 
all  other  disciplines.  The  prevailing  attitude  assumed 
towards  the  Bible,  therefore,  was  sure  to  undergo  a  de- 
cided  change.  While  characteristically  Jewish,  and 
based  on  conclusions  of  the  rationalistic  interpreters  of 
the  Middle  Ages,  the  attitude  towards  the  Scriptures 
was,  in  great  measure,  defined  by  the  philosophy  of  the 
day.  The  character  of  the  Biblical  exegesis  championed 
by  the  Jewish  scholars  of  these  times,  may  be  said  to 
have  been  an  almost  unanimous  desire  to  accentuate  the 
Peshat,  the  natural  sense  of  Scriptures.  The  means 
employed  were  the  scientific  treatises,  in  German,  on 
the  history,  text  and  purposes  of  the  Bible  as  a  whole, 
or  its  separate  books,  for  the  benefit  of  specialists,  and 
the  translations  of  Scriptures,  with  running  com- 
mentaries in  the  Vernacular  of  the  country,  for  the  use 
of  the  laity.  Tt  was  felt,  that  these  means  were  neces- 
sary, in  view  of  the  obtaining  ignorance  in  supposedly 
learned  circles,  with  reference  to  the  history  of  the  Bible, 
and  in  view  of  the  gradual  loss  of  the  knowledge  of 
pure  Hebrew,  on  the  part  of  the  people. 

The  first  man  to  claim  our  attention  as  valuable  con- 
tributor to  the  better  understanding  of  the  meaninfr  of 

132  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

Scriptures,  is  Leopold  Zunz.  He  was  the  first,  not 
only  in  point  of  time,  but  also  in  point  of  service  and 
influence,  so  that  he  is  today  known  as  the  father  of 
that  niovenient  which  has  been  designated  by  the  name 
"  Wissenschaft  des  Judenthums " — "  the  science  of 

Leopold  Zunz  was  born  at  Detmold,  August  10,  1794, 
and  died  in  188G.  He  was  bereft  of  his  parents  in  his 
early  youth,  and  received  his  rearing  in  an  institution 
at  Wolfenbiittel,  where  he  became  the  intimate  friend 
of  a  fellow  student.  Isaac  Marcus  Jost,  the  celebrated 
historian.  It  was,  however,  not  long  before  he  found 
his  way  into  the  gymnasium  at  Brunswick,  where  he 
received  the  foundation  for  that  extensive  classical  train- 
ing, which  served  him  in  such  excellent  stead,  in  the 
literary  career  in  winning  for  him  his  enviable  fame. 
In  view  of  the  temporary  denial  of  university  advantages, 
which  the  Jews  of  Germany  were  once  more  called  upon 
to  suffer.  Zunz  turned  preacher  of  a  small  Berlin  con- 
gregation worshipping  in  the  private  house  of  Jacob 
Herz  Beer.  He  did  not  continue  very  long  in  that 
capacity,  for  in  1823  the  royal  edict  forbade  the  delivery 
of  sermons  in  the  vernacular,  and  all  other  innovations 
in  the  ritual  of  the  German  Synagogue.  Zunz  there- 
fore turned  his  attention  to  the  larger  congregation, 
consisting  of  Jews  and  non-Jews,  whose  constituents 
were  to  be  found  among  people  interested  in  the  scientific 
presentation  of  historical.  Biblical,  and  religious  prob- 
lems. In  1819,  we  find  him  establishing  a  society  for 
Jewish  culture  and  science,  together  with  Edward  Gans 
and  Moses  Closer.  The  object  of  this  organization  was 
to  bring  about  the  religious  culture  of  Jewry,  along 

Tin:    XlXKTKKNTir    ('KNTIIJY    CRITICS  l.').) 

iiiodcni  scientific  liiu-s.  To  carry  out  its  lofty  uiiii,  a 
journal  lor  the  promotion  of  the  science  of  Judaism, 
was  puhlished  under  the  supervision  of  Zunz;  hut  un- 
fortunately, only  thrcH)  numbers  of  that  journal  ap- 
])eare(l,  owin^i'  to  the  financial  embarrassment  of  the 
ventui-e.  Although  the  journal  was  discontinued,  it 
had  engendered  an  a})preciation  for  the  science  of  Juda- 
ism, which  could  not  he  checked  in  its  growth,  but  con- 
tinued to  unfold  from  strength  to  strength,  in  the  course 
of  the  succeeding  years.  'J'he  liberty  of  thought,  which 
Zunz  had  won  for  the  people,  was  now  considered  a 
conditio  sine  qua  non.  not  only  of  the  people's  true 
culture,  hut  also  of  their  complete  happiness.  Like 
Zunz  himself,  the  people  recognized  the  natural  rela- 
tionship between  the  cultivation  of  Jewish  science  and 
the  enjoyment  of  civil  emancipation.  Zunz  now  acted 
in  the  capacity  of  political  editor  for  Spener's  Journal. 
From  1825  to  1829  he  was  in  charge  of  a  Jewish  school, 
and  subsequently  acted  as  preacher  in  tlie  City  of 
Prague.  From  1839  to  1849,  he  was  on  the  directorate 
of  the  Jewish  Teachers'  Seminary  in  Berlin. 

One  of  the  most  important  critical  works,  of  w^hich 
we  are  in  possession,  from  the  pen  of  Zunz,  is  his  essay 
on  Eashi,  which  served  as  model  for  all  future  disserta- 
tions of  its  kind.  The  "  Gottesdienstlichen  Yortrage 
der  Juden,"  the  "  Synagogale  Poesie  des  Mi ttel alters,'' 
"  Pitus  des  Synagogalen  Gottesdienstes  "  and  "  Litte- 
ratur-Geschichte  der  Synagogalen  Poesie  "  are  ))roducts 
of  his  pen,  which  exercised  no  little  influence  in  the 
establishment  of  the  Jewish  scientific  thought  of  tlu* 
past  century.  Tn  "  Gottesdienstlichen  Yortrage "  he 
demonstrates,  tlint  liomelotical  disquisitions  constituted 

134  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

a  part  of  the  ritual  of  tlie  Synago<^ut',  since  the  earliest 
times,  and  that  the  character  of  these  disquisitions  al- 
ways reflected  the  civilization  of  the  times  and  the 
countries  in  which  the  Jews  lived.  The  subject  was 
scientifically  presented.  W'liih'  Zunz,  in  this  work, 
made  propaganda  for  scientific  research  in  the  study  of 
history  and  religion,  he  was  by  no  means  oblivious  of 
the  dangers,  into  which  mere  science  could  lead  the 
Jewish,  as  well  as  every  other  religion.  Tradition  with 
him,  was  of  great  help  in  withliolding  the  student  from 
unwarranted  extremes.  It  was,  therefore,  with  the  desire 
to  emphasize  the  power  of  tradition,  in  the  polity  of  the 
Jew,  that  he  produced  his  works  treating  of  the  syna- 
gogal  poetry. 

In  the  field  of  Biblical  criticism,  he  demonstrated  an 
independence  of  view  point,  which  is  nothing  short  of 
surprising,  when  Zunz  is  studied  in  the  liglit  of  that 
Talmudic  tyranny,  which  still  held  sway  in  his  time. 
Thus,  for  example,  he  recognized  the  composite  char- 
acter of  the  Pentateuch,  and  the  lateness  of  some  of  its 
sections.  He  states  that  Genesis,  in  more  than  one 
place,  proves,  that  it  was  composed  several  centuries 
after  the  settlement  of  Israel  in  Palestine.  Jacob's 
blessings  he  does  not  consider  earlier  than  the  Prophet 
Isaiah's  date.  Exodus  and  Leviticus  he  regards  exilic. 
Deuteronomy  he  finds  consisting  of  three  parts.  The 
address  of  Moses  in  the  thirty-second  chapter  of  tliat 
Book,  he  believes  to  be  a  product  of  the  Exile.  The 
blessing  of  Moses  he  deems  the  latest  stratum  of  Deu- 
teronomy. The  Book  of  Esther  he  placed  into  the 
^faccabean  period,  and  he  states,  that  Koheleth  belongs 
to  the  same  age. 

The  Xineteenth  CENTruv  Critics  135 

Zuiiz  also  ])r()(lii('i'(l  a  Bible  lor  lav  ix'adiiig,  which, 
while  basid  on  tlic  Masoivtic  tvxl,  did  not  ignore  the 
later  scholarshij).  In  this  Bible  he  is  responsible  only 
tor  the  Book  of  Chronicles,  the  rest  of  the  work  having 
been  done  hv  Hevnian  Arnheiiii.  dulius  Fiirst,  and 
Michael  Sachs. 

Heyman  Ahniikim,  who  was  horn  in  179(5  and  died 
in  1865,  was  Habbi  at  Wongrowitz.  Having  translated 
into  German  the  Book  of  Job,  and  written  a  coni- 
nientarv  thereto,  and  having  thus  evidenced  the  hreadth 
of  his  scholarship,  he  was  invited  to  hecome  Zimz's  co- 
laborer  in  the  Bible  he  planned. 

Julius  Fukst  was  born  in  1805  and  died  in  1873. 
He  studied  in  Berlin,  Breslau  and  Halle.  Having  had 
for  his  teachers  such  men  as  Hegel,  Xeander  and  Ge- 
senius,  in  addition  to  being  richly  endowed  by  nature, 
witli  strong  mental  faculties,  it  is  but  natural,  that  he 
should  have  found  his  way  easily,  into  the  front  ranks 
of  German  Jewish  scholars.  In  his  Biblical  exegesis, 
ho  availed  himself  of  the  results  obtained  from  the  study 
of  Hebrew  in  the  light  of  its  cognate  languages.  In 
Leipsic  he  was  "  Privat-Docent "  in  Aramaic,  Syriac 
and  Hel)rew  grammar,  and  in  18()4  the  Saxon  Govern- 
ment awarded  to  him  the  Professor  title.  In  addition 
to  his  collaboration  in  the  Zunz  Bible,  he  WTote  on  the 
structure  of  the  Aramaic  idiom,  published  a  Hebrew 
and  Aramaic  dictionary,  and  a  concordance  of  the  books 
of  the  Old  Testament :  wrote  on  the  history  of  Biblical 
literature  and  tlie  Jewish  ^fidrashic  writings;  produced 
a  treatise  on  the  canon  of  the  Old  Testament  in  ac- 
cordance with  the  traditions  of  the  Talmud  and 
:\ridrasli:    translated    Saadia's    "  Emunoth    Wedeoth"; 

13G  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

treated  the  history  oi'  Karaisiii ;  edited  a  weekly,  eailed 
*' The  Orient";  and  published  independently  an  illus- 
trated Bible,  with  eoniinentary. 

.Michael  Jejiiel  Sacils  was  burn  in  18U8,  and  died 
in  l(S(j4.  After  graduating  from  the  University  of 
Berlin,  lie  became  iiabbi  in  Prague.  In  1(S:3.")  hu  pub- 
lished a  German  translation  of  the  Psalms,  and  later 
an  exegetical  interpretation  of  the  fifty-eighth  chapter 
of  Jeremiah.  He  was  an  authority  on  the  religious 
poetry  of  the  Jews  in  Spain,  having  written  a  book  on 
the  subject.  He  also  wrote  on  the  relation  between  the 
Greco-Iioman  world  and  the  Midrashim. 

While  these  four  men  were  serving  the  cause  of  Ger- 
man Jewry,  Samuel  Cahex,  who  was  born  in  ITiXl 
and  died  in  1862,  was  looking  after  the  intellectual  and 
religious  interests  of  French  Jews.  After  studying  and 
tutoring  in  Germany,  he  went  to  Paris,  as  director  of 
the  Jewish  Consistorial  School.  It  was  he,  who  gave 
the  French  Jews  a  French  translation  of  the  Bible,  ac- 
companied by  careful  notes.  Cahen,  although  making 
some  valuable  contributions  to  Jewish  Biblical  literature, 
outside  of  Germany,  hy  no  means  exerted  so  great  an 
influence  in  his  country,  as  did  the  great  critical  schol- 
ars, Isaac  Samuel  Reggio  and  Samuel  David  Luzzatto, 
in  Italy. 

Peggio  was  horn  in  1784  and  died  in  18r)5.  He  was 
master  of  French,  German,  Latin,  and  the  Semitic 
dialects.  He  was  founder  of  the  Rabbinical  Seminary 
at  Padua.  Taking  Mendelssohn  and  the  Biurists  as  his 
exam])les,  he  translated  the  Pentateuch,  and  accom- 
panied it  with  a  Hebrew  commentary.  He  rejected 
Aggadic   interpretations,  and  stands  out,   therefore,  as 

The  Nineteenth  OENTrijv  (ijitics         13T 

a  cliaiHpioii  of  tlu'  iiatui'al  sense  ol'  Seriptures.  Al- 
tliouiiii  he  felt  that  the  l)ihlieal  text  was  well  ])reserve(l, 
he  eoiifessed  that  a  luiiiiher  of  serihal  erroi'S,  I'ouiid  their 
way  into  it. 

Samiki,  D.vvin  Ijzzat'I'o  was  horn  in  l.soo,  and  died 
in  180^).  Already  in  his  earlv  youth,  he  uaye  sio-ns  of 
extraordinary  ahility.  It  is  told  of  him,  that  while  at- 
tending- seliool,  he  coneeiyed  tlie  idea  of  wi'itin,<i-  a  com- 
mentary on  the  Book  of  Joh,  feeling-,  that  existing  com- 
mentaries were  unsatisfactory  and  misleading.  Lnz- 
zatto  wrote  a  translation  of  the  Pentateuch,  with  a  com- 
mentary, a  translation  of  Joh,  a  translation  with  com- 
mentary on  Tsaiah,  and  notes  on  Jeremiah,  Rzekiel  and 
the  Proye-rlis.  In  1817,  he  ])uhlished  "  Maamar  Ha 
Xikkud."  a  treatise  on  yowels.  The  Syriac  language 
found  in  liim  a  master,  whose  employment  of  the  same, 
led  to  the  l)etter  understanding  of  the  Targum,  "Realiz- 
ing the  imperfect  condition  of  the  Hehrew  text  of  the 
Bihle,  lie  suo^oested  numerous  emendations.  His  belief 
that  Koheleth  was  not  written  by  King  Solomon  shows 
his  departure  from  long  hallowed  teaching. 

With  the  excepti(m  of  Tahen's,  Peggio's  and  Luzzat- 
to's  contributions  to  Biblical  research,  all  the  work  in 
this  line,  which  is  of  any  consequence  to  the  science  of 
Judaism,  fell  to  the  lot  of  German  scholars.  It  is. 
therefore,  that  we  return  to  Germany,  in  our  examina- 
tion touching  the  development  of  Biblical  exegesis. 

A  translation  of  the  Bibb  in  German  was  produced 
by  SoLOMOX  Het^xhetmek.  who  was  born  in  ISOl, 
studied  at  Marburg  and  Gottingen.  and  died  in  1SS4. 
His  Bible,  accompanied  by  a  running  commentary,  seeks 
to  translate  the  Scriptures  literally,  and  to  interpret  the 
same  from  the  grammatical  and  historical  points  of  view. 

138  Jewish  Biblical  Commentators 

Almost  simultaneously  witli  Ilcixlieiiner's  translation, 
LiDwiG  PiiiLiPi'soiiN  produced  one.  Fie  was  Ijorn  in 
1811,  was  educated  in  Halle  and  Berlin,  was  preacher  at 
Magdeburg;  edited  ''  iJie  Allgemeine  Zeitung  des  Juden- 
thums,"  a  Jewish  weekly;  published  works  on  the  devel- 
opment of  the  religious  idea  in  Judaism,  Christianity 
and  the  Islam,  and  on  political  and  religious  problems, 
thus  making  propaganda  for  the  further  emancipation 
of  Jews;  wrote  poems  and  historical  novels;  and  died 
in  1889.  His  Bible  was  illustrated,  and  contains  a  com- 
mentary, in  which  are  reflected  the  best  conclusions  of 
Jewish  and  Christian  interpreters.  In  his  introductions 
to  the  various  books, he  gives  their  character,  "  Tendenz  " 
and  history,  and  a  psychological  study  of  each  one  of 
the  prominent  personages  of  which  the  books  treat. 

Levi  Herzfeld^  who  was  born  in  1810,  educated  in 
Berlin  and  was  Rabbi  at  Brunswick,  was  one  of  the 
factors  to  convene  the  first  Eabbinical  convention  in 
Brunswick,  wrote  a  history  of  Israel,  treated  Hebrew 
stems,  translated  and  commented  the  Book  of  Koheleth, 
and  died  in  1884. 

One  of  the  principal  men  in  the  field  of  Biblical  ex- 
egesis, as  influenced  by  the  spirit  of  the  science  of  Juda- 
ism, and  one  that  is  worthy  col  laborer  of  Zunz,  is 
Abraham  Geiger.  He  was  born  in  1810  and  died  in 
1874.  His  education  in  Biblical  and  Talmudic  lore, 
was  thorough  from  the  very  start.  His  scientific  educa- 
tion, undertaken  for  the  purpose  of  subsequent  devotion 
to  Oriental  philology,  was  obtained  at  the  universities 
of  Heidelberg,  Bonn,  and  Marburg.  He  was  Kabbi  at 
Wiesl)ad('ii.  tlion  at  Breslau.  and  later  in  Berlin.     In  the 

The  Nineteenth  Century  Critics  1:')() 

last  iianit'd  place,  he  bctaini'  one  of  the  teachers  of  the 
Institute  for  tlie  Promotion  of  the  Science  of  Judaism. 

One, of  his  first  publications  was  "  Was  hat  Moham- 
med aus  dem  .ludentliume  aufgenommen? ''  He  pub- 
lished a  Jewish  theological  review,  a  Jewish  journal  of 
science  and  life,  a  text-book  of  the  language  of  the 
Mishnah.  a  monograph  on  Maimonides,  studies  on  the 
Hebrew  grammarians,  Jewish  poets,  Jewish  history, 
Jewish  philosophy,  comparative  religion,  and  Jewish 
Biblical  exegesis.  His  principal  work,  which  gives  him 
a  prominent  place  in  Biblical  criticism,  was  his  "  Ur- 
schrift  und  Uebersetzung  der  Bibel  " — the  original  text 
and  translation  of  the  Bible.  It  treats  the  history  of 
the  Scriptures,  from  the  Exile  to  the  times  of  Hadrian, 
Emperor  of  Eome,  and  deals  with  the  causes  for  the 
existence  of  the  different  recensions.  In  the  course  of 
this  treatise  he  makes  a  critical  investigation  of  the 
different  books  of  Scriptures,  Biblical  institutions,  Jew- 
ish sects  and  their  tendencies,  the  different  ancient  ver- 
sions, the  Apocryphal  Writings,  the  Tetragrammaton, 
and  the  various  names  of  God.  It  is  this  book  which 
has  value  not  only  for  the  Jewish  Biblical  scholar,  but 
has  also  found  its  way,  as  authority,  into  the  schools  of 
Christian  Biblical  students. 

Although  Geiger's  exegetical  position  has  been  com- 
mended and  adopted  generally  in  scientific  circles,  by 
Jewish  and  non-Jewish  scholars,  it  did  not  escape  at- 
tack. One  of  his  most  bitter  opponents,  although  or- 
iginally an  ardent  friend  and  admirer  of  Geiger,  was 
Samson  I^aphael  Hirsch,  the  leader  of  the  Jewish 
orthodox  movement  in  Germany.  He  was  born  in  1808 
and  died  in  1888,  as  Tlahbi,  in  Frankfurt  on  the  Main. 

140  Jewish  Biblical  CommektaTors 

He  was  a  jn-ofoiuul  Talmudic  scholar,  but  did  not  fail 
to  combine  with  his  Talmudic  knowledge,  the  academical 
training  obtained  at  the  rniversity  of  Bonn,  at  the  same 
time  Geiger  attended  that  institution.  Hirsch  wrote  a 
number  of  brochures,  in  which  he  defended  Jewish 
orthodox  theology  and  criticism  against  the  newer  con- 
clusions of  the  science  of  Judaism,  edited  a  monthly 
entitled  "  Jeshurun,"  produced  a  translation  of  the 
Pentateuch,  and  another  translation  of  the  Psalms  with 

A  man,  who  studied  the  Bible  from  the  critical  point 
of  view,  despite  the  conservatism  of  his  theology,  was 
Heinricit  (tRAETZ,  the  celebrated  Jewish  historian.  He 
was  born  in  1817,  and  died  in  1891.  He  was  a  grad- 
uate of  the  university  of  Jena,  ol)taining  his  Doctorate 
on  a  dissertation  entitled  "  Gnosticism  and  Judaism." 
He  first  had  expected  to  follow  the  journalistic  career, 
l)ut  in  1854  he  became  professor  in  the  Eabbinical  Sem- 
inary at  Breslau,  teaching  simultaneously  at  the  Univer- 
sity of  Breslau,  after  having  received  from  the  Govern- 
ment the  title  of  Professor.  Graetz  took  an  active  part 
in  the  furtherance  of  the  work  of  the  "  Alliance  Israelite 
Universelle.'^  waged  war  against  anti-Semitism  by  word 
of  mouth  and  pen.  and  won  for  himself  immortality  by 
his  history  of  the  Jews.  Ta  addition  to  articles  con- 
'tributed  by  him  to  Frankel's  Afonatsschrift  on  Biblical 
subjects,  he  became  a  direct  contributor  to  Biblical  ex- 
egesis bv  his  translations  of,  and  commentaries  on,  Ec- 
clesiastes,  Canticles,  and  the  Psalms. 

With  regard  to  Ecclesiastes  he  holds,  that  it  must 
have  been  written  in  the  Maccabean  times,  and  that  the 
Kinof  alluded   to   in   the  book,  must   be  the  Tdumean, 

The  Nineteenth  Century  Critics         141 

Herod.  He  makes  niiinerous  emendations  in  the  text, 
and  points  out  the  numerous  Grecisms  the  author  em- 
ploys. Of  Canticles  he  holds  that  it  came  into  existence 
in  the  Macedonian  period,  shortly  before  Hellenistic 
a|)ostacies  took  place  in  Judea,  probahlyahairofa century 
before  the  Maccabean  Wars.  Of  the  Book  of  1  Valine  he 
claims,  tliat  it  is  composite  in  character,  and  hence,  doubts 
the  Davidic  origin  of  the  greatest  number  of  them.  He 
does  not  luvMtate  to  change  the  text,  at  times,  in  these 
Biblical  books.  In  addition  to  these  works.  Emendations 
of  the  text  of  Isaiah  and  Jeremiah  were  also  published. 
Some  of  the  Jewish  critics,  who  reflected  the  modern 
higher  criticism,  are  Kaufman  Kohler  in  ]iis  ''Blessing 
of  Jacob"  and  Canticles,  and  Claude  iMonteflore  in  his 
"  Bible  For  Home  Keading.'' 

Xnmerous  other  persons  could  be  mentioned  in  the 
treatment  of  Biblical  research  carried  on  during  the 
Xineteenth  C^entury,  who  have  added  1)y  the  discussion 
of  separate  books  and  separate  component  chapters  of 
the  Scriptures,  to  the  existing  wealth  of  exegetical 
knowledge.  They  are,  however,  not  necessary  in  an  at- 
tempt to  convey  a  clear  idea  as  to  the  part  Jews  played 
in  that  discipline  which  is  calculated  to  rid  the  Biblical 
thought  of  the  overgrowth  nurtured  l)y  theological  bias 
and  the  preconceived  notions  as  to  ilie  intent  of  the 
greatest  book  found  in  the  lil)rary  of  mankind.  The 
men  treated,  prove  lieyond  the  shadow  of  doubt,  that  the 
objects  cherished  in  the  c\dtivation  of  tlie  science  of 
Judaism  were  to  lu'ing  about  the  return  to  the  natural 
sense  of  Scrij'ji ures.  to  strengthen  tlie  hold  of  the 
Biblical  thoiight  upon  the  mind  of  humanity,  to  recast 
Judaism,  as  well  as  other  denominations  bv  the  aid  of 

142  Jewish  Biblical  CoMMENTAXuifs 

pliilosopliical  researcli,  and  to  promote  the  cause  of  that 
hip:lier  religion,  the  purpose  of  whicli  is  the  conservation 
and  consecration  of  truth.  Biblical  criticism  may  todav 
be  cultivated  to  a  greater  extent,  outside  of  Jewry,  than 
witliin  it:  and  yet  tlie  fact  cannot  be  gainsaid,  that  all 
who  are  building  today  the  massive  structure  of  ex- 
egesis, are  building  on  the  foundation  laid  by  the  Jew- 
ish savants,  and  with  the  material  they  have  left  in  the 
form  of  discoveries  and  conclusions  to  the  present  gen- 
eration of  scholars.  Although  the  indebtedness  of  the 
modern  critic  to  the  Jewish  researches  is  acknowledged 
by  many,  the  time  will  come  when  the  scribes,  beginning 
with  Ezra,  the  Eabbis  of  ^[ishnah.  Talmud.  Targumim 
and  Midrashim.  the  Karaites  and  Saadia.  the  Gram- 
marians and  Lexicographers,  Rashi,  the  Tossafists,  Tbn 
Ezra,  the  Kimchis,  Maimonides,  ISTachmanides,  Mendels- 
sohn and  the  Biurists,  Zunz,  Philipsohn,  Geiger,  Samson 
Raphael  Hirsch,  Graetz,  and  others,  will  be  regarded 
everywhere  indispensable  links  in  the  development  of 
Biblical  exegesis,  and  when  the  Jewish  presentation  of 
the  Bible  will  be  looked  upon  as  having  a  message  worthy 
of  the  highest  regard,  in  the  explanation  of  the  intent 
and  meaning  of  Scriptures. 



Abraham,  I.:  Jewish  Literature. 

Backer,  W. :   Jiidisctie  Bibel — Exegese,  &c. 

Die  Bibel  Exegese  Moses  Maimuni's. 

Agada  der  Tanaiten. 

Agada  der  Palast.  Amoraer. 

Baeck,  S.:   Geschichte  des  Jiidischen  Volkes. 
Brann,  M.  :    Geschichte  der  Juden. 
Dessauer,  J.:    Geschichte  der  Isrseliten. 
Dup.NOw,  S.  M.:    Jewish  History. 

FuRST,  I.:   Geschichte  des  Karaeerthums. 


Frjedlaxder,  M.:     Translations  of  the  "Guide  of  the  Per- 
plexed of  Maimonides." 
Geiger,  A.:    Urschrift  und  Uebersetzung  der  Bibel. 
Nach-gelassene  Schriften. 

Judaism  and  its  History. 

Was  Hat  Mohammed  Aus  Dem  Judenthume  Aufge- 


Graetz,  H.:   Gnosticismus  und  Judenthum. 



Das  Hohelied. 

History  of  the  Jews. 

Emendationes,  etc. 

JosT.  M.:   Geschichte  des  Judenthums. 
Herxheimer,  S.:    Bibel. 
Herzfeld,  L.:    Geschichte  Israels. 
HiRscH,  S.  R.:    Pentateuch. 
Ibn  Ezra:     Commentary. 
Jewish  Encyclopedia. 
Jewish  Qtarterly  Review. 
Joel.  M.:    Geschichte  der  Philosophie. 

1-iG  Jewish  Biblical  Co.m.mkntatoks 

.Top:l,  M.:   Blicke  in  die  Religionsgeschichte. 
Kaki'klas,  G.  :    Geschichte  der  Jiidischen  Literatur. 

Jewish  Literature  and  other  Essays. 

Jews  and  Judaism  in  the  Nineteenth  Century. 

KoHLER,  K.:    "Der  Segen  Jakobs." 

Magnus,  Lady:    Outlines  of  Jewish  History. 

Maimonii>es:    More  Nebuchim. 

Margolis,  M.:  Theological  Aspect  of  Reform  Judaism. 

Marshall,  L.  :    Leopold  Zung. 

Mendelssohn,  M.:  Gesammelte  Schriften. 

Commentary  to  Pentateuch. 

MiDRA.sHi.M.    i.    e.,    Rabba,    Yalqut,    Tanchuma,    Targumin, 

Mechiltah,   Sifra,   Sifre. 
MiELziNER,  M. :    Introduction  to  the  Talmud. 


MoNTEFioRE,  C. :    "  The  Bible  for  Home  Reading." 

The  Hibbert  Lectures. 

Nachmantdes:    Commentary. 

Neubafer,  a.:    Geschichte  des  Karseerthums. 

Phtltpson,  D.:    The  Beginnings  of  the  "Reform  Movement 

in  Judaism."  Jewish   Quarterly  Review. 
Phillipsoiix.  L.  :   Bibel. 

Welt-bewegende  Fragen  in  Politik  und  Religion. 

Blicke  in  die  Religionsgeschichte. 

Rasht:    Commentary. 
Hamburger,  J.  Real:    Encyclopadie. 
RiTTER,  J.  H.:    Geschichte  der  Jiidischen  Reformation. 
Saadia:     Emunoth  Wedeoth. 
S.\('HS,  M.:    Bibel. 

Saussayk.  P.  D.  C.  Dk  La:  Religionsgeschichte. 
SciTECHTER.  S. :    Studics  in  Judaism. 
SciiRETBER,  E.:    Reform  Judaism  and  Its  Pioneers. 
Spiegler.  J.  S. :    Geschichte  der  Philosophie  des  Judenthums. 
STEiNsciiNEinER.  M. :    Allgemeine  Einleitung  in  d.  jued.  Lit. 
d.  Mittelalters. 

Die  Arabische  Literatur  d.  Juden. 

Die  Geschichtsliteratur  d.  Juden. 

Die  hebraeischen  Uebersetzungen  d.  Mittelalters. 


Ukijlrwkg,  F. :    History  of  PhUcsophy. 

Wl.NTER-Wi'NSl  HK-.Ii  DISrilK    LlTERATl  K. 

ZuNZ,  L. :    Gesammelte  Schriften. 

Die  Gottesdienstlichen  Vortrage  der  Juden. 

Synagogale  Poesie  des  Mittelalters. 

Veak  Book  Central  Conference  of  American  Rabbis,  Vol. 
XV,  Rashi. 



Aaron   Ibn   Saif>ado,    4.). 

Abarbanel,    Don    Isaac,    U'). 

Ahliassi,  .Tacnl),    Kid. 

Ahraliani   lu'n    David.    H>6,    MT. 

AV)iahani  ben  Miir  Ibn  K/ra.  SO,  10.'). 

Abu   Kathir,   42. 

Abulafia  Meir    Hab>vi.    KHJ. 

Abuhvalid,   5S,    lOo. 

Achai    b.    Rabbi    .Tisbainh.    ■2-2. 

Akibah,    14.    20.    22. 

.\lbo.    Joseph,    114. 

Alfazi.   21,   107. 

.\lniohades,    97. 

.\moraim,    35. 

.\mulo,  65. 

.\nan   ben    David,    36. 

Andalusia,    53. 

.Anti-Exilarch,    37. 

Aqila,   29. 

.\ristotelianism,  15.  101. 

Aristotle,   96,    102. 

.\rnheim.   Heyman,  135. 

.\sher  ben  .Techiel,   115. 

Ashi,    17. 

Aufiustine,    St.,    13. 

Bachva  ben  Asher,  115. 

Ra(hva   Ibn    Pakuda,   89. 

Barcelona,    107. 

Batavian  National  Assembly,   1.30. 

Bedarshi,    106. 

Beer,   .Jacob   Herz,    132. 

Beraitha,   21. 

Bemhard,  Isaac,   118. 

Biurists,   123. 

Bonnet,  118. 

Cahen,    Samuel,    1.36. 

Cassiodorus,    13. 

Celsus,  13. 

Channanel  ben   Chushiel,   45. 

Charizi,    100,   101,    106. 

Charlemaerne,    64. 

Chasdai   Ibn   Shaprut,    52. 

f'hayyup,    105. 

Chushiel,   50. 

fordova.  51. 

David  ben  Isaac  Kimchi,  89,   106. 

David,   Exilarch,   43. 

Derash,   18,   25,   36,   68. 

Detmold,  Samuel,  123. 

Dubno,  Solomon,   122. 

Dunash   Ibn   Labrat,    54,    55. 

Eleazar    Ashkenazi,    115. 

Eleazer  ben  .lohudah,   115. 

Eliezer,   19. 

F-ssenism,   37. 

Euchel,    Isaac,    123. 

E.vilarch,   33. 

E.xten.sion  and   Limitation,   20. 

Ezra,    15. 

Ezra,   Ibn,   44,  59,  68,  74,  80,  103. 

Favum,   42. 

Fra   Paolo  Christian!,   107. 

Frankel,    David.    117. 

French    National    .\s.sembly,    130. 

Fuerst,    .Julius,    135. 

Gabirol,   89. 

Gamliel  I,  26. 

Cans,   Edward,   132. 

Oaon,  34. 

Gaonate,  38. 

Geiger,    .\braham,    1.3S. 

Gershon,    Rabbenu,    65. 

Gesenius,    135. 

Graetz,   Heinrich,   140. 

Gumpertz,    117. 

Habus,  59. 

Hadrian    (Emperor),    14,    20. 

Hadrian    (the   Greek),    13. 

Haggadoth.    18. 

Hai,'  45. 

Halakoth,    18. 

HaniVnirg,    130. 

Hanafltes,    37. 

Hassandler,  .Jochanan,  66. 

Hegel,    135. 

Herder,    119. 

Herod,   141. 

Herxheimer.   Solomon,    137. 

Her/feld,    Levi,   1.38. 

Hezekiah,    45. 

Hillel,  19. 

Hirscli,    Samson   Raphael,    139. 

Hivi  of  Balkh,  4^). 

Homberg,    Herz,    123. 

Ishmael,   19,   22. 

Islam,   37,   97. 

Israeli,   Isaac,   45. 

.Jabneh,   29. 

.Jacob  ben  Meir,   74. 

.Jaroslav,   Aaron,   123. 

.lehudah,   17. 

.lehudah  Halevf,  81. 

Jehudah   Karoish,   45. 

Jerome,   St.,   13. 

.Jonathan,  27. 

.Jonathan  b.    Uziel,   27. 



Joseph  Bechor  Shor,  75. 

Jostph  ben  Isaac  Ibn  Alfual,  100. 

.Joseph   ben   Isaac   Kinicbi,   88. 

.Joseph  ben  Simon  Kara,   72. 

.Joseph   Ibn    Abitur,    51. 

.losephus,   29. 

J  est,    Isaac   Marcus,    132. 

Juda    ben    David    Chayyug,    57. 

.Iiidah   ben   Joseph   Alfacher,    100. 

.Judah   the   Persian,   40. 

Judghan  of  Hamadan,   4i). 

Junilius,  13. 

Juxtaposition,  20. 

Karaism,   39. 

Karaites.  38. 

Kaspe,   Ibn,   106. 

Kimchi,   88. 

Kisch,   117. 

Knapp,    121. 

Kohen,    Raphael.    120. 

Kohler,   Kaufman,   141. 

Lavater,  Johann  Kaspar,  118. 

Leibnitz,  118. 

Lessing,  118. 

Levi  Ben   Gerson,   114. 

Levi  Ibn  Tibbon,  83. 

Locke,   118. 

Loewe.  Joel,  123. 

Lowth,   Robert,  121. 

Luther,   70,    121. 

Luzzatto,   Samuel  David,   137. 

Macon,    Council  of.   64. 

Maimonides,    David,  97. 

Maimonides.  Moses,   15,  96. 

Masora,   25,   84. 

Mecklenburg,   130. 

Mekhilta,   21. 

Menahem   ben   Saruk,    53,    75. 

Menasseh  ben  Israel,   119. 

Mendelssohn,  Moses,  117. 

Methurgeman,   16. 

Michaelis,   121. 

Midrash   Haggadol,   25. 

Midrash  Rabba,  23. 

Midrash  Tanchuma,  24. 

Midrashoth,    18. 

Miqra,  17. 

Mirabeau,  129. 

Mishnah,   17. 

Montefiore,   Claude,   141. 

Moses  ben  Enoch.  50,  53. 

Moses  ben  Maimon,   97. 

Moses  ben  Nachman  Gerondi,   106. 

Moses  ben  Shesheth,   116. 

Moses  Moser,  132. 

Motekallemin,  96,   102. 

Nachmanides,   106. 

Nahawendi,  Benjamin,  40. 

Nahum   of  Gamzu,   19. 

Napoleon.   130. 

Narbonne,   65,   88. 

Narbonne,   Council  of,   64. 

Nathan  ben  Isaac  Cohen,   50,  65. 

Nathan  ben  Samuel,  115. 

Neander,   13.}. 

Nethanel   ben   Isaiah,  115. 

Nicolai,    Friedrich,    118. 

Nicolas   de    Lyra,    13.    70. 

Nissini  ben  Jacob,  4.5. 

Nissim  ben  Moses,   115. 

Obernik,    Meir,    123. 

Onqelos,    27. 

Falquera,    Ben,    106. 

Paris.  Council  of,  64. 

Parshandatha,   66. 

Peshat,    18,    25,    43,    68,    73,    84,    108, 

123,   131. 
Peshitta,    29. 
Pesiqta    Rabbati,    24. 
Pesiqtah   de    Rab   Kahanah,   24. 
Philippsohn,   Ludwig,   138. 
Philo,   29. 

Pirqe  de  Rabbi  Eliezer,  24. 
Porphvry,    13. 
Prague,   133,   136. 
Prussia,  130. 
Pumbeditha.   34,   43. 
Qabbalah,    108. 
Rabbina,   17. 
Rabbinism,   41. 
Rabbinites,   38. 
Rabe,   123. 
Rabhad,  106. 
Rambam,  97. 
Ramban,   106. 
Rashbam,   73. 
Rashi.   66. 
Redak,  89. 

Reggrio,    Isaac    Samuel,    136. 
Resh  Geluthah,  33. 
Rikam,   88. 
Rumahis,    Ibn,    50. 
Saadia  ben  Joseph,  42. 
Sabbathai    Donnolo,    45. 
Saboraim,    35. 

Sachs,    Michael    Jehiel,    1.30. 
Sadduceism,  37. 
Salman  ben  Jerucham,    42. 
Samoscz,   Israel,    117. 
Samuel  ben  Chofni,   4.'). 
Samuel  ben  Meir,   73. 
Samuel   ben   Nissim,    115. 
Samuel   Hanagid,    59. 
Samuel   Ibn   Nagdela,   58. 
Samuel  Ibn  Tibbon,  98.    lOi,  106. 
Santes  Pagninus,  13. 
Sarachya  Halevi,  107. 
Sassinades,   34. 
Schechter,   109. 
Schulchan   Arukh,   114. 
Seder  Olam,  23. 
Septuagint,   29. 
Shemaryah,   50. 
Sherira,  45. 
Sifra.  21. 
Sifre,  21. 

Simon  ben  Zemach   Duran,  115. 
Solomon  ben   .\braham,   106. 



Solomon   1)011    Isaac,   66. 
Sora,   34,   42. 
Spener's  Journal,   133. 
Spinoza,  113,   118. 
Talmud,  17. 
Tarn  Rabbenu,  75. 
Tanaim,   21,  35. 
Tanchuma,   24. 
Targums,   26,    44.    104. 
Toledo,   81. 
Tortosa,    53. 
Tns«>fta,   21. 

Tossaftsts,   72. 

Trovt'S,   66. 

Tuiini,    114. 

Wellhausen,   13. 

VVesselv,    Naphtali    Hcrz, 

Westphalia,   1.30. 

Wolfsohn,    Aaron,   123. 

VVoiius,   66. 

Yalqut   Ha   Makiri,   25. 

Vahiut    Shinioni,   24. 

Yisdal,  102. 

Zun/.,    Loopold,  24,   132. 


Date  Due 

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